PM documentary row: Delhi court issues fresh summons to BBC UK

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | April 29, 2024 IST

PM Modi

New Delhi, April 29: In a fresh development involving the controversial BBC documentary concerning Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Delhi court has issued a fresh summons to the BBC, UK.

The move comes as the previously served summonses were allegedly unsuccessful.

Recently, Additional District Judge Ruchika Singla of the Rohini Courts issued a fresh summons to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and others in a defamation suit seeking to restrain them from publishing the documentary on PM Modi or any other material related to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The suit was filed by BJP leader Binay Kumar Singh. The judge observed that the BBC and the other defendants -- Wikimedia Foundation and the US-based digital library Internet Archive -- are foreign entities and the service of summons must be effected as per the guidelines issued by Delhi High Court.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had issued a fresh notice to the BBC on a suit filed by a Gujarat-based NGO, Justice on Trial, claiming that the documentary titled 'India: The Modi Question', "cast a slur" on the country's reputation and that of the judiciary and the Prime Minister.

Justice Sachin Datta had also issued notice to BBC India on the plea. The counsel for the petitioner NGO informed the high court that notices were issued to the BBC -- UK and India -- earlier but they could not be served.

Judge Singla has listed the matter for next hearing on August 27.

The judge also noted that the Wikimedia Foundation and Internet Archive have received the summons.

The counsel for the plaintiff placed on record the tracking report as per which the summonses were served upon ABC Legal Service on March 23.

However, the court said: “… Summons issued to defendant no. 1 (BBC, UK) not received back. Same be issued afresh on the UK address in compliance of order dated 07.07.2023 on filing of processing fee (PF) within 7 days from today.”

Last year, it was opposed that since the defendants are foreign entities, the service could be effected only as per the procedure prescribed.

During the hearing, the court on July 27, 2023 said that mere filing of a 'vakalatnama' by the lawyers shall not do away with the mandatory requirement of the service of summons on the defendant entities under the prescribed procedure.

“Hence, by virtue of the same, it is clear that as per the rules formulated under the Hague Convention and by the Government of India, the summons/notices in foreign countries can be effected only through the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, which has admittedly not been done in the present case,” the court said.

It added: “It is directed that the summons be issued afresh to the defendants on the filing of PF within 7 days to be served through the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice, as per rules.”

Binay Kumar Singh, who claims to be the state executive committee member of the Jharkhand BJP and an active volunteer of the RSS and VHP, moved the suit through advocate Mukesh Sharma stating that the claims made in the documentary against the RSS and VHP are made with the intention of defaming the organisations and its volunteers.

The two-volume documentary series that has already been banned in the country is nevertheless easily accessible in the public domain on Wikimedia and the Internet Archive, Singh argued.

 (IANS)

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