Gopal Dass Sharma Vs. The District
Magistrate, Jammu & ANR,  INSC 276 (10 November 1972)
SIKRI, S.M. (CJ) SIKRI, S.M. (CJ) RAY, A.N.
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH DWIVEDI, S.N.
CITATION: 1973 AIR 213 1973 SCR (2) 969 1973
SCC (1) 159
Press and Registration of Books Act (25 of
1867) ss. 6 and 8B-Scope of-Cancellation of declaration if violates fundamental
right of carrying on business.
Before a magistrate cancels a declaration
under s. 8B of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, he has to give a
notice and opportunity to the person concerned to show cause against the action
proposed and hold an enquiry. If he is thereafter satisfied that (a) the
newspaper is published in contravention of the provisions of the Act or rules made
there under, or (b) the newspaper bears a title which is the same as, or
similar to, that of any other newspaper either in the same language or in the
same State, or (c) the printer or publisher has ceased to be its printer or
publisher, or (d) the declaration was made on false representation or
concealment of any material fact, he may cancel the declaration. [971 C-F] In
the present case, the petitioner gave the title 'Blitzkrieg' as his first
preference for the title of his newspaper and the magistrate authenticated the
declaration as required by s. 6 of the Act. Thereafter, the magistrate
cancelled the declaration on the ground that the title is the same as that of
'Blitz' without giving any opportunity to the petitioner.
In a petition under Art. 32,
HELD : (1) The order of cancellation should
be quashed. [972 B] (a) It violated the petitioner's fundamental rights to
carry on the occupation of editor and the business of publishing a newspaper.
[972 A-B] (b) The order was passed with unseemly haste without giving any
opportunity to the petitioner. [971 H] (2) The Second notice given to the
petitioner during the pendency of the writ proceedings should also be quashed
as the titles 'Blitzkrieg' and 'Blitz' are totally different titles and there
is no ground for cancellation of the declaration. [971 G-H; 972 B-C]
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petition No. 270
Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India
for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
Petitioner appeared in person.
R. N. Sachthey for the respondents.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
RAY, J.-This writ petition is directed against an order dated 8 July, 1971 made
by the District Magistrate, Jammu.
970 The District Magistrate by the said order
under section 8B (ii) of the Press & Registration of Books Act 1867,
referred to as the Act, cancelled the petitioner's declaration dated 23 April,
The petitioner is a citizen of India. lie is
a permanent resident of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. On 2 June, 1970 he
made an application to the District Magistrate, Jammu for permission to start a
weekly paper in English from Jammu.
The petitioner in accordance with the rules
under the Act gave a list of 11 names in order of preference. The first
preference given by the petitioner was "Blitzkrieg".
The petitioner on 9 February, 1971 made a
declaration under section 5 of the Act giving particulars of the newspaper.
the title of the newspaper, the language in
which it was to be published as also the periodicity of the publication. A
second declaration was given by the. petitioner on 23 April, 1971. The second
declaration was necessitated because of two changes. One was as regards the,
day of publication.
It was shifted from Saturday to Tuesday. The
other was with regard to the name of the printing press. The District
Magistrate, under section 6 of the Act, authenticated the declaration made by
the petitioner. A declaration made under rules laid down in section 5 and
authenticated under section 6 shall be necessary before the newspaper can be published.
The first issue of the petitioner's weekly
paper was published on 20 March, 1971.
Sometime in the month of July 1971 the
petitioner was served with a notice dated 7 July, 1971 asking him to show cause
why the declaration dated 23 April, 1971 might not be cancelled inasmuch as the
petitioner's title of the weekly newspaper Blitzkrieg was similar to that of
Blitz published from Bombay. The petitioner was asked to show cause by 8
The petitioner came to know on 16 July 1971
from the notice dated 13 July, 1971 served upon the Keeper of the Printing
Press where the petitioner printed the issue of his paper that the declaration
of the petitioner for 'Blitzkrieg' had been cancelled by the District
Magistrate, Jammu by an order dated 8 July 1971.
The petitioner alleges the District
Magistrate's displeasure with the petitioner. Though the District Magistrate in
the notice dated 7 July, 1971 gave the petitioner one month's time till 8
August, 1971 to show cause, yet the District Magistrate cancelled the
petitioner's declaration on 8 July, 1971.
971 The petitioner challenges the validity of
the order. the petitioner alleges the order to be violative of his fundamental
rights to carry on occupation, trade or business.
The District Magistrate in his affidavit
alleged that in the notice dated 7 July 1971 the date 8 August. 1971 was a
typing error. Therefore, by an order dated 8 November 1971 the notice was
withdrawn and a fresh notice was served on the petitioner to show cause by 20
November, 1971 as to why his declaration should not be cancelled.
The petitioner obtained a rule on 2 August,
1971. It is apparent that the District Magistrate took, the steps after the
petitioner had exposed the wrongful and illegal acts.
The cancellation of the declaration is made
under section 8B of the Act. The Magistrate is to give a notice to the person
concerned. An opportunity is to be given to show cause against the action
proposed. An enquiry is to be held. An opportunity is to be given to the person
concerned to being heard. If the Magistrate is thereafter satisfied that (a)
the newspaper is published in contravention of the provisions of the Act or
rules made there under, or (b) the newspaper mentioned in the declaration bears
a title which is the same as, or similar to, that of any other newspaper
published either in the same language or in the same State, or (c) the, printer
or publisher has ceased to be the printer or publisher of the newspaper
mentioned in such declaration, or (d) the declaration was made on false
representation or on the concealment of any material fact or in respect of a
periodical work which is not a newspaper, the Magistrate may, by order, cancel
In the present case the respondents justify
the cancellation on the ground that the title of Blitzkrieg is the same as that
of Blitz. In the, affidavit the District Magistrate stated that the title of
Blitzkrieg "had been inadvertently cleared in favour of" the
petitioner. That is not a ground for cancellation of declaration. The petitioner
gave the title Blitzkrieg as the first in order of preference. 11 titles were
given. The Magistrate authenticated the petitioner's declaration in respect of
the. title Blitzkrieg. The newspaper Blitz cannot be said to be either a recent
publication or to be unknown. The petitioner contended that Blitz and
Blitzkrieg were different titles.
So they are.
The cancellation was wrongful. It was hasty.
No opportunity was given to the petitioner. 'The explanation of a typing error
with regard to the date indicates the unseemly haste with which the District
Magistrate took action against the petitioner.
972 It was said on behalf of the respondents
that the petitioner had a right of appeal under section 8C of the Act. It is
also said that no fundamental right of the petitioner was infringed by the
cancellation. The petitioner's fundamental right to carry on the occupation of
editor of newspaper as well as business of publishing a newspaper is infringed
by the illegal act.
The order of the District Magistrate dated 8 July 1971 canceling the petitioner's declaration is quashed. We have taken notice of the
subsequent event during the pendency of this rule when the District Magistrate
issued another notice dated 9 November, 1971 asking the petitioner to show
cause why the declaration should not be cancelled. That notice dated 9 November, 1971 is also quashed. There will be no order as to costs.
V.P.S. Petition allowed.