Bombay High Court takes Suo-Motu Cognizance of News on Circular prohibiting Door-to-Door delivery of Newspapers

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On 20th April 2020, Chief Justice Prassana B. Varale of Bombay High Court’s bench at Aurangabad took suo-motu cognizance of an article published in the ‘Lokmat’ as well as ‘The Hindu’ newspaper which stated that ‘Maharashtra allows printing but bans distribution of newspaper’. The matter was directed to be listed as a writ petition in the public interest (PIL).

The High Court looked into the matter and relied on the article published in newspapers as well as a statement made by Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray. In his statement on Twitter, he said that print media should refrain from doing home deliveries of newspapers or magazines, but this should be available at stalls/shops etc. that deems fit to print media.

Observing the matter presented before this Court, the Court said that it is aware that central and state governments are taking necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the Court failed to understand this step of government under which it allowed the production of print media at tea stall/ shops etc. but banned home deliveries. The Court believed that banning of home deliveries is not a preventive step because it gives one reason to people to come out of the houses to buy newspapers from nearby shops during lockdown whereas if the home delivery of print media is available then there is no need to move on the streets for the purchase of newspapers.

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The Court also observed that the notice is also silent on whether it applies to some districts, or it is a blanket decision of state government that applies to the whole state. Looking into the societal aspects, the Court was also of the view that everyone can’t avail e-newspaper as everyone is not conversant with technology.

The High Court stated that:

This Court deems it appropriate to take cognizance of the aforesaid news items. Hence, Mr Satyajit Bora, learned Counsel, was appointed as the amicus curiae and respondent has been asked to file a response on or before 27th April 2020. [The Registrar (Judicial), High Court of Judicature of Bombay, Bench at Aurangabad v The State of Maharashtra & Ors.]


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