The Indian government has banned a controversial BBC documentary about Narendra Modi, claiming it is propaganda. This Guardian article claims that they invoked their emergency laws to ban it.

The question is, what are the emergency laws of India? Is there an article in the constitution which outlines the laws of emergency?

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    Any state in the world, or any state in India? Different governments have different very different rules regarding what others might call censorship. There are almost 200 countries in the world. Asking for a compilation of the censorship laws in each one is asking too much. Jan 30, 2023 at 15:56
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    I've edited the question to narrow it down to just India's emergency laws, as those are the ones you actually seem to be asking about. As David Hammen explained above, asking about the emergency laws of every country in the world is much too broad. Only India's is actually relevant to the example you brought up.
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 30, 2023 at 16:06
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    @Up-In-Air From the Guardian article, India ranks 150 out of 180 regarding freedom of the press. This can only mean that this is not anywhere close to an isolated incident. Criticism of India apparently is highly frowned upon in India. Some countries tolerate criticism while others do not. India does not, given that low of a ranking. Jan 30, 2023 at 22:10
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    @whoisit Call it biased, call it whatever you want. That said, a ridiculously low ranking of 150 out of 180 means something, and it is not a good something. A ranking that low simply is not a good sign. India does not have and has not had a good reputation regarding freedom of speech. Officially banning a BBC production is but one example, and it justifies their low ranking. Jan 31, 2023 at 0:02
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    @whoisit here's a deal: you tell me what to write on a sign and go protest in front of the White House, I tell you what to write on yours and go protest in front of your the Parliament of your favorite non-Western country. Do you see why this will be very easy for me but very hard for you? This is why David is right and Press Freedom ratings are legitimate, even if biased. Jan 31, 2023 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


The following is just re-iterating information in public domain.

Article 19 of the constitution of India guarantees the Freedom of speech and expression as a Fundamental Right - however, with quite a few restrictions.

  1. The right is available only to the citizens of India - the BBC is not an Indian citizen.

  2. The constitution allows government to have reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right - specifically in the interests of
    i. the sovereignty and integrity of India,
    ii. the security of the State,
    iii. friendly relations with foreign States,
    iv. public order, decency or morality,
    or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

On Jan 20, the central government used this restriction, and banned the documentary, with officials saying it has been found to be “undermining the sovereignty and integrity of India” and has “the potential to adversely impact” the country’s “friendly relations with foreign states” and “public order within the country”.

The Secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry had issued the directions in his capacity as Authorised Officer under Rule 13(2) of The IT Rules 2021 to take down all online presence of the documentary in India.

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    The problem here, compared to your assertion that Press Freedom Index is a "biased western indicator" is that, from a Western PoV, the reasonable restrictions you list are numerous and seem pretty much left to the interpretation of the government. Specifically items like "decency or morality" would raise huge red flags to Western voters. That 150 out of 180 hardly seems out of reach. Furthermore how banning a still-available-to-foreigners documentary to Indians would avoid damage to "friendly relations with foreign states” is really questionable. Certainly avoid embarrassing Modi tho. Jan 31, 2023 at 4:30
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    @whoisit How was this restriction conveyed to the nation, was there a press briefing on Jan 20th, any video, text links from the Ministry of Braodcasting
    – Up-In-Air
    Jan 31, 2023 at 20:59

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