Seeing many views on it from both the sides of fence in expected and unexpected lines on this matter and trust me majority of them are not making proper sense. As happens with most of the issues, right wing, left wing and liberal debates make a mess of real issue and politics removes the chance of clarity on any matter even if facts might be out in public domain. Logic, reasoning, technicalities and legalities of the issues often go for toss, leaving just a noise behind without letting people learn any lesson.
I don’t really blame people considering the fact that most of these issues are emotional and rather than Manmohan style silence which nation seen since last decades, its better to have the noise and opinions than having none. Especially important when finally the time has come when Govts are responding to issues raised by such noises in real time, right or wrong, proportionate or disproportionate, that’s secondary, at least a mechanism is there and it does work. Pitfalls, cons of the mechanism are there and would be improved by own pace over time or may be not but that’s still better than having no mechanism at all.
But let’s leave individual biases, emotions aside, let’s talk what really has happened in this case and what the matter is all about and where everyone stands. (Unfortunately I lost the draft for this post at least twice so I might miss some of the points, which came to my instantly after going through entire case)
Honestly speaking from the angle of a filmmaker or broadcaster, there is no fault at all for going for such a content considering the fact that no rape case has been resonated this loudly across world in recent even if Boko Haram and ISIS are raping at least hundreds on daily basis. Sad, worse, pathetic ….whatever.. but it makes the interviewing Delhi Gang Rapist worth from curiosity point of view to a film maker or even commercial point of view of a broadcaster. Media works on one basic principle and that is to bring content to people who want to see it and whatever this means, people want to see that. Even our reporters go to various countries and ask questions to victims who every time look at them with hopes that may be they would help out them or would do something which might help their misery, but end up become just commercial interest of journalists and broadcasters. But the process many a times bring much needed attentions and debates as well so no one minds the imperfect world realities.
Having said that it’s also true that interviewing a convict, who might be counting his last days, doesn’t matter much for a narrative or message. What you expect? Remorse when his lawyer making different argument in court exactly at that moment? Same brazenness, with which, he committed the crime? Fact is, none of these two situations matter or worth knowing about as both situations get influenced by the kind of conditions the convict is.
If he expresses remorse, then would you ask for mercy for him? Even when the Supreme Court has called his crime as rarest of rare, when his actions have led brutal death of a young girl? Don’t say people don’t do, many asked mercy for Afzal and Kasab likes as well and last president even pardoned such brutal crimes which wouldn’t have led her sleep for rest of her remaining life only if she would have read it, no matter which country she might be travelling to.
If you don’t ask for mercy then what else? You want to show society that this is how one feel guilty after committing crime? Really? Which single one of us doesn’t know that already? Byproduct of such “remorse” publicity is rather the outrages on harsh punishments and human rights etc which tend to make the punishment some kind of better place to live than the real life for many.
And if he doesn’t show any remorse, then? If he says the same what his lawyer might be saying because we never touched the lawyers, no matter how degraded arguments they make. He already knows he gonna die soon, what he would say else when the case was in endgame, when his lawyer was making same argument outside because there was no other way out left? Because that’s the way lawyer been fighting such cases all across nation.
But anyway, leave the moral, logic aside, you gotta do what you gotta do. Whole human population is made on the basics of self-preservation logic, no matter they cut trees for it or cows or humans, there will always be defenders on their side.
Now coming over the faulty part of BBC/ Filmmaker,
Technically, you are generating content, not a normal one but a conditional content. You are not the creator or object in it but the convict and authorities are. It doesn’t affect you as much as it does to these objects and particular nation and legally they are well within their rights to control how much they want to allow you for, just like you don’t want to make a documentary of how you shit daily behind closed door, no matter how curious people might be to know about that, just like you don’t want to make child porns and broadcast on BBC, no matter how curious people might be to see that.
The unfortunate incident happened in mid-December 2012, the case ran for next year. During somewhere July 2013 (UPA rule), the permission was granted by Jail Authorities to BBC and particular filmmaker. Coincidently the Home Minister then was Sushil Shinde and Delhi matters were dealt by RPN Singh whose wife Sonia is a prominent anchor in the media house, who became partner in broadcasting the very documentary, which created the stir (Quid Pro Quo any?) Strange because this was the same period when Court even barred national media from even hearing the case proceedings. But as the ban by court was to ensure that fair proceeding can happen in the case without being influenced by what reporters or editors think about the incident without legal expertise on the matter and by the time BBC was to finish the documentary was after the verdict, so I can still get the rationale of the decision taken by Tihar Jail Authorities. Personally I am not convinced that permissions should have been given a foreign media outlet while the same was denied to ours own while the impact of the former was sure higher than the later and the logic which was used by the court to ban national media to cover the case should have been followed by the Tihar authorities as well for any other outlet, no matter how “persuasive” that might be.
Anyway, what’s done is done (Anyone noticed 9 months of the convict consent? Why 9 months, not six or twelve? Exactly nine months after August, comes May 2014, means new Govt). Legal permission was given though here come the issue with BBC/ Filmmaker. The permission wasn’t without conditions; the permission was given under three specific standard conditions:
Prior approval of Tihar jail authorities need to be taken to publish the research papers or for releasing the documentary which is being made solely for social purposes without any commercial interest as conveyed.
To interview on only such convicted prisoners who give written consent.
The complete unedited footage of the shoot will be given to the jail authorities to ensure that there is no breach of prison security.
Let me make this very clear that pointless to argue on reasoning / logic / rationales of the conditions, I can answer but the thing is, BBC/Filmmaker signed on it and so they are legally bind by each single word of it.
While the second condition stands fulfilled, first and third are not.
There are versions from both sides, BBC says that they shown complete footage and Tihar Authorities asked them to show final product as well before broadcasting anything, while Tihar Authorities say that they never shown the complete footage and the objection was made by them even then over which BBC had said to come back on. But at the end, the fact over which both sides agree upon is, the permission to publish wasn’t given and even a legal notice was sent by Tihar Authorities to BBC in late 2014 (now I am not sure whose Govt it was as one news report says that first legal notice to BBC was sent in April 2014 and another news report says, first legal notice to BBC was sent in November 2014).
Despite of a legal notice under law of land open, BBC decided to go ahead with the content (which was sourced under certain signed conditions) and NDTV, whose connection with last MoS Home Affairs I already highlighted, becomes Indian partner to broadcast it at the same time. NDTV might skip the law saying that they have no idea about conditions of the content or the legal notices sent to BBC, but BBC sure breaching the law here. Not only the content was being used for commercial purposes (trailers been running on BBC and NDTV both for hours), but it was without the approval it needs. As about broadcast, BBC might be external party but NDTV comes within jurisdiction of I&B Ministry and current policies of India on content being broadcasted. No matter how much outrage you, NDTV breaking the law here without the new Govt changing any law specifically than the earlier situation. The content is illegal and non-compliant with the current laws explicitly mentioned in license of various media houses.
As of now, Tihar Authorities have sent another legal notice to BBC in continuation of their last notice that how they can go ahead with the content which is unauthorized and under dispute for which legal notice has been sent to them by authorities?
Govt of India has exercised their legal rights to stop the broadcast of illegal / unauthorized content and asked for investigation that under which conditions, a foreign media outlet was allowed to take interview when national media houses were banned by Supreme Court of the nation from even covering the court proceedings of the case or related parties. (I remember some even went to court against Zee News airing Interview of the survivor boy in the same incident).
One can outrage based on their political biases, like I seen many on Facebook or Twitter, may target Govt of their choice, but laws and facts remain on table to call their bluff off. Neither these laws or conditions got defined recently nor they are completely illogical based on various type of scenarios.
Now coming over fault on Government part,
As I explained above legally there is a case and they are well within their rights to do what they did and actually would have been deficiency of service if they would have failed to do the same. I have complaints with Tihar Authorities or whoever responsible though that why there was such delay in sending legal notices and followups? Why the media outlet was given permissions in first place? Why it was allowed to get away with entire footage without clearance? Though same time knowing the way system has been working in this country till now considering the huge population and the kind of pressure of drastic and opposition circumstances, I still consider the mistakes as laxity than intentional crime.
Government, though on fault when, it wants to perceive this as attack on painting the nation as wrong. Yes! The coverage given to the incidence looked disproportionate but considering the kind of protests and campaigns it generated was all worth it. Yes! Many rapes happen across country and even in other countries and even many good things happen as well to focus up on, but that doesn’t take away the gravity of things like such a crime. What has happened, would be shown, proportionate or disproportionate, that’s not without the truth.
You are well within your right for procedural actions and even though jokers (like Samajwadi Party whose chief want relaxed laws for rapists as “boys do mistakes” but MPs like Jaya Bachchan would give gyaan to Govt) say whatever for making their political points, you have to stand your ground on procedural argument than rubbish argument like “intentional attempt to malign nation”. It might be, but it doesn’t make your case. It’s natural to get irritated when mistakes of others get used to drag you down without any mistake of yours, but it happens. You can counter media propaganda by a positive campaign and you are not allowed to cry foul if others succeed over you even by lies.
I would have preferred to say these things on facebook than in form of a blog post but as facts and argument was longer than I would have preferred, so I chose to write a blog post instead. Do leave a comment to let me know if you feel anything should be added or something I might have missed.