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It would not be a breach of press freedom to suspend a newspaper’s accreditation while an investigation is conducted into the actions of an editor: Himachal Pradesh High Court

It would not be a breach of press freedom to suspend a newspaper’s accreditation while an investigation is conducted into the actions of an editor, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICETARLOK SINGH CHAUHAN, in the case of Vijay Gupta v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (CWP No. 7487 of 2014).

Brief facts of the case:

For over 13 years, the petitioner worked as the editor of a Hindi weekly called Him Ujala. This publication was widely read across the states of Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. The Government of Himachal Pradesh presented the petitioner with the “Laghu Patrikarita ke Kshetra me Nirantar Parkashan Hetu” (an award for excellence in journalism), however the petitioner’s accreditation was revoked because of outstanding criminal charges.

 counsel for the petitioners, said that the respondent-decision State’s to cease publishing government tenders and classified ads and to not renew the petitioner’s accreditation is an assault on the First Amendment right to free speech. While the counsel for the respondents, argued that the petitioner’s accreditation and suspension had been brought before the Press Accreditation Committee, the final authority under Rule 4 of the H.P. Press Correspondents Accreditation and Recognition Rules, 2002 (hereinafter referred to as “the Rules”).

JUDGEMNET:

Almost as destructive as nuclear power, the press has the ability to both build and destroy. Considering this, it is crucial that the owner/editor of a publication like a petitioner take on more responsibility, and if his own conduct is being investigated, his credentials must naturally be suspended.

The court reasoned that the petitioner’s accreditation was just suspended until the conclusion of the criminal case in accordance with sub-rule (2) of rule 14 of the H.P. Press Correspondents Accreditation and Recognition Rules, 2002.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI

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