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Jitendra Lal Banerjee Vs. Emperor - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1933Cal458
AppellantJitendra Lal Banerjee
RespondentEmperor
Excerpt:
- .....under section 18, press emergency powers act, 1931, of keeping for distribution unauthorized news sheets. the facts are that the petitioner's house was searched on 7th june 1932. in the course of the search were found among other things sixteen small card photographs. the photographs represented persons killed in the course of the chittagong armoury raid. below the photographs are given their names and ages and the places where they met their deaths. moreover, in the case of one of them there is also a statement that he committed suicide to escape arrest. both the courts below have found as a fact that the photographs were kept for distribution and we have no doubt that this finding is correct.2. the only ground upon which the petitioner has obtained this rule upon the crown to.....
Judgment:

Panckridge, J.

1. The petitioner in this case has been convicted under Section 18, Press Emergency Powers Act, 1931, of keeping for distribution unauthorized news sheets. The facts are that the petitioner's house was searched on 7th June 1932. In the course of the search were found among other things sixteen small card photographs. The photographs represented persons killed in the course of the Chittagong Armoury Raid. Below the photographs are given their names and ages and the places where they met their deaths. Moreover, in the case of one of them there is also a statement that he committed suicide to escape arrest. Both the Courts below have found as a fact that the photographs were kept for distribution and we have no doubt that this finding is correct.

2. The only ground upon which the petitioner has obtained this Rule upon the Crown to show cause against the order of conviction is that the articles seized are not unauthorized news-sheets within the meaning of the section. It is common ground that if the photographs are news-sheets they are unauthorized news-sheets. By Section 2, Sub-section (6) of the Act 'news-sheet' means any document other than a newspaper containing public news or comments on public news or any matter described in Sub-section (1), Section 4. By Section (2), Sub-section (5) 'newspaper' means any periodical work containing public news or comments on public news. By Section 2, sub Section (2) it is provided that 'document' includes any painting, drawing or photograph or other visible representation. Mr. Bhattacharjee on behalf of the Crown argues that the photographs convey information and must be regarded in the same light as verbal descriptions of the physical characteristics of the persons depicted. In addition they contain the statements to which I have referred. In my opinion, this argument is sound but it does not of itself dispose of the matter since I am not disposed to hold that all information is public news. 'News' is thus defined in the Oxford English Dictionary:

Tidings, the report or account of recent events or occurrences, brought or coming to one as new information, new occurrences, as a subject of report or talk.

3. Having regard to the purpose and general scheme of the Act I am of opinion that information is public news if it concerns a matter of public and topical interest as contrasted with purely historical interest. The information conveyed by the photographs satisfies this test, for although they were discovered more than two years after the raid the legal proceedings arising out of it had not terminated and the emergency measures rendered necessary in the District of Chittagong in consequence of it were still in operation. It seems to me that information regarding the armoury raid is public news whereas information regarding an event of purely historical importance such as the storming of the Bastille might not be public news. This being so, I consider that the photographs are documents containing public news and therefore news-sheets within the meaning of Section 2, Sub-section (6). It is not necessary to consider whether they are news-sheets as containing matter described in Sub-section (1), Section 4. It follows that the Rule must be discharged and the conviction affirmed. If on bail the petitioner must surrender and serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Patterson, J.

4. I agree.


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