The announcement of an exclusive interview with December 16 gangrape accused, Mukesh Singh, to be aired on BBC on International Women’s Day on March 8, has kicked off a controversy, as to how the channel got the permission to interview the accused while the matter was subjudice.
The channel reportedly got the permission to interview the accused in 2013, before the decision of the city court convicting the accused in September 2013. According to sources, British filmmaker Leslee Udwin and the BBC were given permission to interview the bus driver Mukesh Singh on the condition that the documentary be vetted by the jail authorities and could be screened only after it was approved by authorities. The BBC is said to have agreed to this. However, they did not get the documentary footage approved by the jail authorities.
Tihar officials then sent a legal notice to the BBC in November 2014, sources said. The BBC did not reply to the notice. Tihar jail officials are now drafting a second notice. Tihar jail PRO Mukesh Prasad said, “We had sent the BBC a legal notice in November last year. But we got no reply. We are putting together a second one today.”
A P Singh, defence counsel for Akshay, two of the five gangrape accused, said, “The BBC team had also taken permission from me to interview my clients in 2013, and came to Delhi again last month. The statement made by Mukesh are his views. Several international media agencies have met the accused during the trial and after the High Court decision.”
M L Sharma, who first represented Pawan, Mukesh and Ram Singh before being removed, said, “The BBC team and many other agencies met the accused several times. The BBC had also met me about 10 days ago. I think this interview was taken while the trial court had reserved its judgment in the case. I had told my clients not to speak to anyone. Mukesh must have been told by advocate V K Anand to give this statement.”
He added, “This is an unfortunate statement. It can be taken as an extra-judicial confession.”