The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy urging it to pass a direction to rectify “a lacuna in the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 regarding the definition of Editor.”
Dismissing the petition, a Division Bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice V.K. Rao said: “It is not for the Court to legislate.”
Dr. Swamy had urged the Court to read “no person who does not ordinarily reside in India written in the Act also as ‘and is not a citizen of India’ shall not edit a newspaper.’’ He argued for “reading the current statute to include being a citizen of India as a prerequisite for being regarded as ordinarily resident in India.”
The Bench, observing that “it may be true that citizenship kindles a sense of patriotism and loyalty and thus it may be desirable that a person who is not a citizen of India should not be an editor of publication in India,” said: “The Press and Registration of Books and Publication Bill, 2011 … has suggested amendment to the Act by defining editor to mean a person who is not only an ordinary resident in India but is also a citizen of India.”
“But it is for the legislature to consider the Bill on the floor of the House and not for the Court to legislate,” the Bench added.
“Hoping that Parliament would find some time to consider the Press and Registration of Books and Publication Bill, 2011, which is pending consideration now for over two years, we dismiss the writ petition declining relief as prayed for,” the Bench said.
Dr. Swamy had sought direction for removal of the former editor of The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan, submitting that he was not an Indian citizen. The Bench said the issue had become infructuous “because during the pendency of the writ petition the respondent no. 3 [Mr. Varadarajan] resigned from the post of Editor of The Hindu …’’