Sakal Papers Ltd. V. Union of India, AIR 1962 SC 305

By – Madhu Sri Chepuri (Sri Padmavati Mahila Visva Vidyalayam)

ABSTRACT / HEADNOTE

According to the Constitution of India Article 19 is a fundamental right. It provides protection of rights related to freedom of speech etc. Article 19 1(a) provides the right to freedom of speech and expression[1] Article 19 1(g) provides the right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business[2] . These are the rights which are provided to the citizens of India. Article 19 1(a) grants the rights to citizens to express their opinions,thoughts and odeas freely. The freedom to express includes speech, expressions, writing ,printing, visual representations etc. In the case of Romesh Thappar vs state of Madras[3] ,the CJ Patanjali shastri observed that freedom to press is a part of article 19 and and there should be not interference from the state or any public authority and the right is not absolute which has some restrictions which are mentioned under article 19 2 of the Indian constitution.

In Prabhu dutt vs union of India[4], the Supreme court held that the right to know the information and news regarding the government administration is also included in the freedom of press. Article 19 1(g) provides that the citizens have the right and freedom to choose and practice the occupation,trade of their own choice but there are certain restrictions regarding in the interests of the general public,professional Qualifications or the sovereignty and integrity of India. In the landmark Judgement, chindamanrao vs state of M.P. AIR 1951[5], the court held that the act made by the government is arbitrary and doesn’t fall under the reasonable restrictions. In the present case, the petitioner plead that his rights are violated under the provisions of The Newspaper Act 1956 and the Newspaper Order 1960. The Supreme Court of India in this case decided that the provisions made under those impugned acts are unconstitutional and they are violating the rights of citizens under Article 19 1(a),(g). In its Judgement the Supreme Court of India said that the law should not make any Acts which restricts the liberty of citizens. Any acts made should be reasonable and it should not violate any right which is given to the citizens under the Constitution of India.

KeywordsFreedom of speech and expression, Newspaper Regulation, Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, 1956, Daily Newspaper (Price and Page) Order,1960, Constitutional validity, Availability of newspaper, Article 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g)

CASE DETAILS

Judgement Cause TitleSakal Papers (P) Ltd. V. Union of India Civil Appeal No. 1168 of 1966
Case NumberPetition numbers 331 of 1960 and 67-68 of 1961
Judgement Date25 September, 1961
CourtSupreme Court of India
Quorum J.R. Mudholkar, Bhuvneshwar P. Sinha, A.K. Sarkar, K.C. Das Gupta, N. Rajagopala Ayyangar
AuthorJ.R. Mudholkar
Citation1962 AIR 305,1962 SCR (3) 842, AIR SUPREME COURT 305
Legal Provisions InvolvedConstitution of India- Article 19(1)(a),19(1)(g) Newspaper (Pric and Page) Act,1956 Daily Newspaper (Price and Page) Order,1960  

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF JUDGEMENT

The Sakal Papers case is considered as a landmark case which revolves around the article 19 1(a) and 19 1(g) of the Indian constitution. The Judgement was a 5bench Judgement which consists of justices J.R. Mudholkar, Bhuvneshwar P. Sinha, A.K. Sarkar, K.C. Das Gupta, N. Rajagopala Ayyangar.

The bench had made significant observations on the law made by the government which is related to newspapers.

It involved Sakal paper company and the state regarding the dispute of violation of article 19 guaranteed under constitution of India due to the provisions made under the impugned act and order.

Article 19 1(a) provides the right to freedom of speech and expression.

 Article 19 1(g) provides the right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business .

The Newspaper Act, 1956: This act was passed by the central government which regulates the price of the paper and also the number of pages to be in the Newspaper .

Section 3 states that the central government has the power to regulate prices and pages of newspapers.

The Newspaper Order, 1960: This was made under the authority of the Act 1956.

The court had preceded over the cases like Romesh Thappar vs state of Madras, Prabhu dutt vs union of India and gave a landmark decision .

The bench had delivered the milestone Judgement stating that the provisions made by the government under the Newspaper Act 1956 and the Newspaper Order 1960 were unconstitutional. And also said that the freedom of press is included in the freedom of speech and expression.

The Supreme Court of India said that government should make the laws which are according to the citizens and it shouldn’t restrict the liberty of citizens in any manner.

FACTS OF THE CASE

  • Sakal paper is a daily newspaper published in Marathi language.
  • It is a private newspaper company named as SAKAL.
  • The company provides a total of 6pages in its Daily newspaper ie., on 5 weekdays and 4pages on 1day with 7np price.
  • It publishes newspapers with 10pages on Sundays by charging 12np.
  • The company allocated 40% space for advertising and rest for news.
  • The petitioner was the private company who has filed a Challenging petition against the acts which was passed by the government according to which the newspaper company has to charge the paper based upon the number of pages they provided.
  • There are total 3 petitions filed.
  • The first petition filed by the SAKAL paper company and the rest 2 petitions were filed by the readers of Daily newspaper.
  • In the writ petition, they challenged the provisions of 1956,1960 Act and order as they are violating the fundamental right which is given under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

LEGAL ISSUES RAISED

  1. Whether the freedom of speech and expression include the freedom of publishing and circulation?
  2. Whether the impugned Act and order is violation of right of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution?

PETITIONER/ APPELLANT’S ARGUMENTS

  • The petitioner’s counsels argued that the Newspaper Act and Newspaper Order violate the right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution.
  • They contended that enforcing the impugned Act and order would force them to either raise the price from 7 nP to 8 nP per day or reduce the total number of pages to 24, thus violating Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  •  They asserted that reducing the number of pages would curtail news content, affecting the circulation of the company.
  • Additionally, they highlighted that while currently all newspapers can issue any number of supplements as they choose, the Order would prevent them from doing so without government permission.
  •  They argued that the Order would effectively compel them to increase prices or reduce pages for practically every newspaper in the country, while also restricting them from publishing supplements without extraneous restrictions, as they currently do.
  • They further emphasized that publishing advertisements is a trading activity that needs differentiation from an activity falling under Article 19(1)(a).

RESPONDENT’S ARGUMENTS

  • The Respondent’s counsels argued that the Act aims to regulate newspaper prices relative to their pages.
  • They acknowledged that the impugned Order limits space for news and ideas but suggested newspapers could expand by raising prices.
  • They contended that the Act and Order address unfair competition and monopolies, promoting free speech.
  • The Respondent asserted that raising prices wouldn’t harm circulation, justifying restrictions in the public interest. They highlighted that newsprint imports are tied to 1957 page averages, limiting page increases.

RELATED LEGAL PROVISIONS

  • Article 19 1(a) of the Indian constitution:  “Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc. – (1) All citizens shall have the right-
  • (a) to freedom of speech and expression”.
  • Article 19 1(g) of the Indian constitution: “ to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”.
  • The Newspaper Act,1956: “An Act to provide for the regulation of the prices charged for newspapers in relation to their pages and of matters connected therewith for the purpose of preventing unfair competition among newspapers so that newspapers may have fuller opportunities of freedom of expression”.
  • The Newspaper Order, 1960:  This was made by the central government which says that ” fixing the maximum  number of pages that might be published by a newspaper according to the charged price and prescribing the number of supplements that could be issued”.

JUDGEMENT

RATIO DECIDENDI

The bench had went by the petition made by the Sakal paper company and accepted the petition.

They gone through the provisions of the 1956 Act and 1960 order and said that those provisions were violating the rights of citizens.

In Romesh Thappar vs state of Madras the Supreme Court held that freedom of speech and expression also includes freedom of press and that right should not be violated by anyone.

In Prabhu dutt vs union of India, the Supreme court held that the right to know the information and news regarding the government administration is also included in the freedom of press.

By taking these cases as precedence, the Honourable Supreme Court delivered it’s Judgement as the provisions made by the government under the 1956,1960 Act and order were not reasonable and they are violating the rights which are guaranteed under constitution of India. 

In this case , the court had dismissed the claims due to lack of Evidence.

The court had struck down the provisions of those impugned act and order and held them as unconstitutional.

Further it stated that, the government should not make any laws which restricts the freedom of citizens and their fundamental rights.

CONCLUSION & COMMENTS

In the Sakal Papers case, the Supreme Court of India struck down the provisions of the 1956 and 1960 Acts, holding them unconstitutional.

This case marked a milestone in the development of constitutional law in India, specifically concerning the freedom of speech and expression.

 It involved the violation of the fundamental right guaranteed to citizens under the Constitution.

The right to freedom of speech and expression, including the freedom of the press, publication, circulation, and dissemination of opinions, is integral to our democratic society.

Hence, the government should refrain from enacting any laws that interfere with citizens’ rights.

Important Cases Referred

  1. Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras(1950 SCR 594, 607; AIR 1950 SC 124)
  2. Patanjali Sastri, J.
  3. Prabhu dutt vs union of India

Important Statutes Referred

  1. Article 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g).
  2. Section 3,4 of the Newspaper Act 1956.

[1] Article 19 1(a) ,of the Indian constitution http://https://www.bareactslive.com/ACA/ACT401.HTM

[2] Article 19 1(g), of the Indian constitution  http://https://www.bareactslive.com/ACA/ACT401.HTM

[3] Romesh Thappar vs state of Madrashttp://https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1218090/

[4] Prabhu Dutt vs Union of India https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1218090/

[5] Chindamanrao VS State of M.P.AIR 1951http://https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1218090/

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