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BBC documentary issue: British broadcaster, Wikimedia raise point of jurisdiction; claim breach of Hague Convention

New Delhi: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Wikimedia Foundation on Thursday raised the point of jurisdiction before the Rohini Court during a hearing on a plea seeking a direction restraining the publishing of the BBC documentary based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They also submitted that they have not been served properly as per Hague Convention as they are foreign entities.
The counsel for these entities sought time to argue on the point of jurisdiction.
However, the Internet Archive apprised the court that it had removed the link to the documentary.
Additional District Judge (ADJ) Ruchika Singla listed the matter for hearing on May 26.
On May 3, the court issued a summons to these three organisations on a plea moved by Binay Kumar Singh. The court also directed them to file their written statement within 30 days from the date of service of the summons.
The counsels for the BBC and Wikimedia Foundation appeared in protest and submitted that they have not been served properly.
The counsels also refused to accept the copy of the plea in court. The counsels submitted that they were appearing under protest as they have not been served properly as the defendant BBC and Wikimedia are foreign entities.
The Counsels also submitted that this court does not have the jurisdiction to try the present matter.
The counsel for BBC submitted that she has not received the copies as the service has not been effected properly upon the defendant BBC.
The court noted in the order that the counsel for the plaintiff was ready to supply the copy in the court today, which was not accepted by the counsel for the BBC stating that the same shall
be prejudicial to her rights in view of the Hague Convention.
She sought time to argue on this point.
Further, the copies were supplied to the counsel for Wikimedia but it was submitted by the counsel that the same was also not as per law as per the Hague Convention, the judge noted in the order passed on Thursday.
The petitioner moved a plea through advocate Mukesh Sharma.
The petitioner Binay Kumar Singh prayed the court to pass an order restraining the Defendants restraining them including their agents, etc to cease the publishing of the two-volume documentary series "India: The Modi Question" or any other defamatory material pertaining to the Plaintiff,

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on the platforms of Wikimedia and Internet Archive or any other online or offline platforms.
He also sought to pass a direction to the Defendants ordering them to tender an unconditional apology to the Plaintiff as well as to RSS and VHP for the libellous and defamatory content published in the two-volume documentary series.
The petitioner also sought damages of Rs 10 lakh from the defendants for alleged defamation caused by the documentary because he is also associated with RSS, VHP and BJP.
It was said that in the month of January 2023, BBC aired the two-volume documentary series "India: The Modi Question".
It was submitted that through the said documentary, BBC claims that there are rising tensions between India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country's Muslim minority; there is an alarming rise of hate crimes and extreme politics in India, particularly targeting the Muslim community.
It was also stated that it is also claimed that there is a dangerous call for violence to make India a Hindu Nation and it also includes a report alleging that the extent of violence against Muslims
including widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women, with the aim to purge Muslims from Hindu areas.
Further, there were many other endless accusations against BJP, RSS and VHP etc and it claimed that at least 2,000 people were murdered during the violence, with the vast majority being Muslim and the said violence being organized by extremist Hindu nationalist groups, the plea said.
It was also alleged that BBC strategically and purposefully disseminated unfounded rumours without verifying the authenticity of the claims.
Furthermore, the accusations made therein foster animosity between multiple faith communities, in particular Hindus and Muslims. Therefore, considering the said fact the central government during the month of January 2023, in absolute bona fide has justifiably blocked the said two-volume documentary by using its emergency powers under the law of the land, the Petitioner said. (ANI)

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