On 09th April 2020, Based on the Writ Petition filed under Article 226 in Madras High Court, Bench comprising of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice R. Hemalatha held that “merely apprehensions that newspapers may carry the Corona virus cannot be the grounds for restricting the citizens ‘right to information”
This Writ Petition filed by Ganesh Kumar in Madras High Court Challenging the exemption given by the Central Government to the ‘Print Media and Electronic Media by virtue of Notification No. 40-3/2020 dated 24th March, 2020’. The Petitioner submitted before the Hon’ble Madras High Court, that ‘there is a Risk of Transmission of Covid-19 virus, if newspapers are published and delivered to the readers’. Petitioner submitted ‘there is a possibility of spreading virus, even if the paper delivery boy is infected with the corona virus’.
In support of his arguments, the Petitioner relied on a report called “SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol and Surface Stability Compared to SARS-CoV-1 published in The New England Journal of Medicine, stating that the virus could survive for 4-5 days in the newspaper”
While Dismissing a Petition filed by Petitioner against exemption given to the print media from the Nationwide Lockdown in wake of Covid-19 Spread in Tamilnadu State. Bench observed, “Mere apprehension or least probability cannot be a ground to prohibit the publication of newspapers as it would amount to violation of the Fundamental Rights, of not only the publisher, editor but also the readers, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.”
Court Observation made in the context of Numerous Research Reports submitted by the Petitioner suggesting that paper, particularly newspapers, may be “potential carriers” of the Corona virus. Dispelling all such notions, the Bench pointed out that all such researches were “preliminary” and not conclusive
The Additional Advocate General would further submit that the Right to Information is a Fundamental Right and therefore, any steps to Restrain the Print Media from publishing will go Against the Fundamental Rights of the Citizens.
Thus the Madras High Court while Dismissing the Petition and held that Right to Information is a Fundamental Right and therefore, any steps to Restrain the Print Media from publishing will go against the fundamental rights of the Citizens. If the Print Media is going to be restrained, then it would go against the fundamental rights of the Citizens of the Country
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje