oppn parties Ganashakti Cannot be Denied Government Ads

News Snippets

  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Ganashakti Cannot be Denied Government Ads

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
In 2013, the West Bengal government had discontinued issuing government advertisements to Ganashakti. It had issued an order in this regard, claiming that since Ganashakti was an organ of a political party and that it had not clearly specified the rates, it was ineligible for receiving government advertisements. Aggrieved by this, Ganaskahti filed a writ in the Calcutta High Court.

The Court ruled that discontinuing advertisements to Ganashakti would amount to infringing upon the freedom of the press. It cited Sakal Papers (P) Ltd v Union of India & Ors and Bennet Coleman Co v Union of India & Ors where it was clearly established that curtailing advertisements to any newspaper amounts to increasing its costs and thereby scuttling its circulation. It also cited Ushodaya Publication Pvt. Ltd v Government of Andhra Pradesh & ors, where a full bench of the Court “observed that though the expression "freedom of press" does not occur in Article 19(1)(a), freedom of press is a part of the right of free speech and expression and is covered by Article 19(1)(a). It has also observed that the freedom of circulation of a newspaper is necessarily involved in freedom of speech and expression and hence enjoys the protection of Article 19(1)(a).

Then the Court categorically said that ownership of newspaper is not a criterion to deny advertisements by State. It also said that the State had no discretion in this regard and had to follow DAVP guidelines. It cited Sushil Choudhary & Anr v State of Tripura and ors where it was held that “a policy of the Government to allot 24% out the total 30% of advertisement to one daily and the remaining 6% to other dailies belonging to the same class to be violative of Articles 19(1)(a) and Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

The Court’s decision will ensure that the government of the day does not play politics with something for which detailed guidelines exist. It is a matter of fact that Ganashakti is empanelled with DAVP and continues to receive advertisements from Central and other state governments. DAVP guidelines clearly mention that “that in releasing advertisements it does not take into account the political affiliations or editorial policies of newspapers/journals.” The West Bengal government order was a blatant case of political bias and the Court has done well to set it aside.