Editors: HC agrees with Swamy but dismisses his plea

The Delhi High Court (HC) dismissed Tuesday a plea by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to explain if citizenship should be a pre-requisite to appoint a person Editor of a publication in India. The court said the definition of Editor and the conditions for appointment to the post were already the subject of Press and Registration of Books and Publication Bill 2011 pending in Parliament.

Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V K Rao, however, said it would be "illogical" if such a provision was not made since the media was the fourth pillar of democracy.

"If being a citizen of India is a pre-requisite of the three pillars of democracy — the legislature, executive and the judiciary — no person can be elected to a legislature unless he is a citizen of India, no person can hold a public post if he is not a citizen of India, no person can hold the office as a judge if he is not a citizen of India, it would be illogical that a person who is the pivot of the fourth estate is not to be a citizen of India," said the court.

Swamy had said foreigners should not be allowed to hold the post of Editor in the media in India and had asked the court to define the term "ordinarily resident in India" which appears in Press and Registration of Books Act 1867.

The judges held the Act did not seem to indicate that the citizenship of India was a necessary condition but noted that a Bill to amend it had been pending before Parliament since 2011.

"It may be true that even the legislature has so opined evidenced by the fact that 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 on the floor of the House and not for the court to legislate," the Justices said.

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