Blocking newspaper delivery amid coronavirus lockdown an offence, say legal experts

In fact, in these times of fake WhatsApp forwards, dissemination of correct information by the print media is even more essential.

Published: 04th April 2020 08:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th April 2020 08:38 AM   |  A+A-


For representational purpose only. (File photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Blocking of newspapers by resident welfare and gated housing societies has raised questions on freedom of speech and expression, with many legal experts terming the action as illegal.

Pointing out that newspapers come under essential services, Supreme Court advocate Saurabh Kirpal said, "Restrictions on distribution of newspapers has no scientific or legal basis. Government guidelines clearly exempt the print media from the lockdown. In fact, in these times of fake WhatsApp forwards, dissemination of correct information by the print media is even more essential. Even the SC in its recent order directed the media to carry the official version of events so that citizens may be made aware of true facts. An attempt to stop the delivery of newsapers undermines this direction. RWAs doing that are acting with excess of authority coupled with lack of knowledge. Since newspapers fall under essential services, it should be delivered freely," he said.

Terming the distribution of newspapers a constitutionally protected right, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde said, "Freedom of speech is freedom of informed speech. The SC has consistently protected the right of the Press to publish and even included the supply of newsprint as part of that right. Mere printing without distribution is not publication. The right to distribute newspapers to willing customers should be constitutionally protected."

SC advocate and activist Virag Gupta said, "The SC has issued directions to all the states to curb the menace of fake news. The government has categorised the distribution of newspapers as an essential services. Any obstruction in the distribution of newspapers not only impedes the dissemination of information but also constitutes an offence under section 5 and 6 of the Essential Services Maintenance Act 1981."

For many, reading the newspaper daily is an addiction. Advocate DK Mahant said, "Since school days, I am an addict of newspapers. Accessing the news online on cellphone/tab is now the preferred mode but getting the hard copy has its own charm."

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp