The legal violations by the “India’s Daughter” documentary

Yesterday we highlighted that although there is a lot of opposition to the “India’s Daughter”, the documentary, there is no pressing need to use the constitutional provisions to block the it’s release. There were however other concerns, which needed to be addressed and it was upto the channels to decide on the social impact of such a documentary. However, today some legal aspects have also come up.

According to the Home Minister’s statement, The Ministry of Home Affairs, in July 2013 had given an NOC to shoot the said documentary. Subsequently, Tihar Jail authorities also gave the required permissions, subject to fulfilment of the following conditions:

(i) Prior approval of jail authorities is to be taken for publishing the research paper or for releasing the documentary film which is being made for purely social purposes without any commercial interest as conveyed.

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(ii)To interview only such convicted prisoners who give written consent.

(iii)The complete unedited footage of shoot in the Tihar Jail premises will be shown to the jail authorities to ensure there is no breach of Prison security.

On 7th April 2014, once the Jail Authorities realised that the conditions had been violated, a legal notice was sent to return the unedited footage within 15 days and also not to show the film as it violates the permission conditions. Subsequently, the documentary film was shown to the jail authorities where it was also noticed that the film shown was the edited version and not the unedited as per permission conditions. Hence, they were requested to provide full copy of the unedited film shoot for further review by the authorities and that they were asked not to release/screen the documentary till it is approved by the authorities.

As per this report, a notice was sent to BBC in November 2014. There was no reply to this notice from BBC. As of March 3rd, Tihar jail officials were drafting a second notice to BBC, highlighting the conditions that have not been met. There are questions whether the documentary is still being used only for “social” and “non-commercial” use, as per the initial conditions, agreed by the film-makers.

As things stand, The documentary makers haven’t shown the unedited version of the documentary to the Jail Authorities, as promised by them. Hence they don’t have the permission of the Jail authorities. As mentioned above, there is also doubt whether the documentary is being used only for “social” purposes. Yet, in gross violations of the conditions, BBC has already aired the documentary in United Kingdom and it is now available on YouTube.


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