The Editors Guild of India on Friday urged the government to revoke the ban on the film India’s Daughte r to enable people to view “what is a positive and powerful documentary touching on the freedom, dignity and safety” of women.
The documentary was aired on BBC’s Channel 4 on Thursday evening and has been available online since then despite the government securing a court injunction on its screening across media platforms in the country.
In a statement, the Guild found no merit in the government claiming that the film could not be shown because the subject of the documentary — the Nirbhaya gang rape that shook India in the winter of 2012 — is sub judice. “To raise the issue of sub judice now at the stage of final appeal in the Supreme Court and seek to still discussion is absurd. Judges, particularly those in the Supreme Court, are by training and temperament immune to the happenings in the public sphere outside the court, and it is an insult to the Supreme Court to suggest that the airing of the convict’s perverted views would tend to interfere with the course of justice,” the Guild said.
Describing the ban as “wholly unwarranted” and based on a misunderstanding of the power and message behind the documentary, the Guild noted that the film portrays the courage, sensitivity and liberal outlook of a family traumatised by the brutality inflicted on the daughter, the continuing shameful attitudes towards women among the convict and the educated, including lawyers, besides multiple voices in support of women’s freedom and dignity.
Pointing out that the Supreme Court itself has advocated “the broadest freedom to express even the most unacceptable of views,” the Guild said the message that emerged from the documentary was such that it would make people re-examine their own attitudes and the attitudes of people around them.
The Guild’s statement also takes note of the fact that the government seems to have taken the proscription route on the basis of initial expressions of outrage — including by members of Parliament — and without viewing the film in its entirety. “The rationale that the ban was in the interests of justice and public order as the film ‘created a situation of tension and fear amongst women’ and as that the convict would use the media to further his case in the appeal that was sub judice seems to be an afterthought.”