Vice News documentary 'India Burning' portrays negative view of our secular credentials: Central government to Delhi High Court

The FRRO said that the documentary's producer Angad Singh misrepresented facts in his visa application and indulged in "blatant anti national propaganda to defame the country".
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

The Central government has informed the Delhi High Court that Vice News journalist Angad Singh was deported from India and blacklisted because his documentary titled ‘India Burning’ presented a “very negative view of India’s secular credentials”.

The affidavit filed by the Foreign Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) stated,

“He misrepresented facts in his visa application filed for obtaining Journalist Visa in the year 2020 and has indulged in blatant anti national propaganda to defame the country."

It further said that Singh has been blacklisted under Grade A at the behest of the Consulate General of India at New York.

Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Singh is a US citizen and carries an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. He was deported to New York in August 2022.

In a Facebook post, his mother had claimed that he had come to India to meet his family residing in Punjab, and that the reason for his deportation was his journalism. It is his case that though he has travelled to India several times on a journalist visa, in August 2022, he was coming to the country to meet his family in Punjab, but was denied entry.

When the matter came up for hearing on Friday before Justice Prathiba M Singh, Advocate Swathi Sukumar argued on behalf of Singh that her client, being an OCI cardholder, enjoys all rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India, except for certain rights as specified in Section 7B(2) of the Citizenship Act.

Sukumar submitted that even the government is not saying that Singh’s OCI card has been cancelled.

“As per Section 7D of the Act, OCI cards cannot be cancelled without giving the cardholder a reasonable opportunity to be heard. They are saying I have been blacklisted but no reasons have been communicated to him. My OCI card is still valid,” she submitted.

However, Central Government Standing Counsel (CGSC) Anurag Ahluwalia argued that as per the Foreigners Act ,1947 and the Foreigners Order, 1948, no foreigner can produce a film or public exhibition without permission from the Central government. He stated that Singh was blacklisted for violating this provision.

When the Court asked Ahluwalia whether any show cause notice was issued to Singh, the lawyer said that he would seek instructions from the Union Ministry of External Affairs on this aspect.

The Court thereafter listed the case for further consideration on February 28.

In his plea, Singh has asked the Court to restrain the government from denying him entry into India, as it violates his fundamental right under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

He has also sought a declaration that the government's action to deport him was illegal, as well as disclosure of all the materials and data available with the government related to him.

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