Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended his government’s decision to ban a controversial documentary film about the fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi, saying it was to ensure the dignity of the victim was protected.

The film ” India’s Daughter ” – which features an interview with one of the men who raped and tortured a 23-year-old woman on a bus in December 2012 – was banned in March as his comments were considered to be derogatory towards women.

The director of the documentary, Leslee Udwin, said the ban obstructed free speech, and critics have said the move was aimed at concealing widespread misogynistic attitudes in India.

A still from the documentary.

In his first remarks about the case, Modi told Time Magazine that broadcasting the documentary would have “violated the dignity of the victim”.

“I do not think it is a question of freedom of speech, it is more a question of law and respecting the victim and the judicial processes in this particular case,” told the magazine in an interview published on Thursday.

“One aspect is that the identity of the rape victim should not be revealed which would have happened if this interview was allowed to be telecast.

“Two, the case is still sub judice and the telecast which features the interview of the person who is alleged to have committed the crime could have impacted the judicial process.”

The documentary includes an interview with Mukesh Singh, one of four men sentenced to death for the rape and murder of the young physiotherapy student. In the film he attempts to blame the victim for the crime and says she should not have resisted.

The four men have appealed to the Supreme Court, which has yet to fix a date for the hearings.

Singh’s comments grabbed headlines in Indian newspapers and sparked outrage on social media. Some people have questioned whether the convicts should have been given a forum to express their views.