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Delhi HC has sympathy but rejects Swamy’s plea to ban foreign editors

The Delhi HC dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s petition claiming that newspapers can not be edited by foreigners, specifically referring to The Hindu’s former editor Siddharth Varadarajan – a US passport holder, reported Mint.

Swamy argued that because protection under fundamental rights did not extend to foreigners, they could not be fearless as editors, which the high court dismissed because the existing wording of the law was clear.

Making no order as to costs, because the petition was “raised in the public interest and merited a serious consideration”, in the judgment the bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V Kameswar Rao said:

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.

It may be true that even the legislature has so opined evidenced by the fact that the Press and Registration of Books and Publication Bill, 2011 which has been cleared by the Select Committee and is pending before Parliament 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 at the floor of the House and not for the Court to legislate.

They added that parliament should find “some time to consider the Press  and  Registration  of  Books  and  Publication  Bill,  2011”, which had been pending before it for two years.

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