Report No. 93
Comments Received on The working Paper
8.1. Comments on the Working Paper-General description and views on first question.-
The Working Paper prepared on the subject under consideration was circulated by the Commission in February, 1983 to interested persons and bodies, including the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, several organisations connected with the Press: The Press Council of India and its members, State Governments, High Courts and Bar Associations. A request was made to forward comments by the 15th April, 1983. All comments received upto 4th September, 1983 have been taken into account before finalising the Commission's views.
It may also be mentioned that very valuable views dealing with almost each question raised in the Working Paper have been expressed in an article by Shri S. Sahai of the Statesman who, incidentally, has also given in the article a gist of the important queries contained in the Working Paper. The Commission would like to express its appreciation of the interest shown by Shri Sahai in the matter1 and also its gratitude to those who have sent comments on the Working Paper. As regards the comments as such that have been received on the Working Paper, replies have been received from:
(a) Six High Courts,2
(b) Registrar of one High Court who has, it appears communicated his personal views,3
(c) One Member of Parliament,4 and
(d) One Bar Association.4
However, with reference to the replies received from High Courts (six in all) mentioned above, it should be made clear that only one High Court has expressed its views.6
Three High Courts have sent negative replies, namely, that the High have no views to offer7 or that the Judges of the High Court have no desire to offer views.8
Again, in two other High Courts, only six Judges of each High Court have given their reaction and the reaction is that those six judges have "no remark to offer"9 or that they have no views to offer10 (the rest of the Judges of these two High Courts have not expressed views or their reaction). Coming to the views expressed questionwise, the first question raised in the Working Paper was whether the proposed privilege in respect of disclosure by journalists should be confined to professional journalists only or whether it should cover others as well. In putting the query in this form, the Commission did not have in mind the categories of distinction between "working" and "non¬working" journalists as such, or any demarcation between editorial and non-editorial staff.
The Commission wished to elicit views as to whether there was need to keep distinct a person who has taken up journalism as a profession and, (on the other hand), the "lonely pamphleteer" who uses the carbon paper or a mimeograph. According to the views expressed by Shri Sahai of the Statesman on this question,14 "the short answer is that since the privilege is claimed on the ground of serving the public interest the people's right to know-it cannot be confined to journalists alone; but must extend to others as well". The reply of one Registrar of a High Court (personal view), is that the protection should be given not only to the professional journalists, but also to the part-time contributor and others connected with the publication when acting in the process of gathering or processing of information.12 He would include, within the scope of the protection, the editor and other senior management personnel to whom the information is conveyed and the persons who accompany the newsman, such as the cameramen.
1. Shri Sahai's article in the Statesman dated 7th April, 1983.
2. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. Nos. 11, 13, 14, 18 and 20.
3. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 18.
4. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 10, Mr. Fdaardo Faleiro (1624 M.P. Goa).
5. Bar Association, Manipur, Imphal, Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 17.
6. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 14.
7. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. Nos. 11 and 20.
8. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. Nos. 18 and 20.
9. Law Commission File No. F. 2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 13.
10. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 16.
12. Shri Sahai's article in the Statesman (7th April, 1983).
13. Law Commission File No. F.2(2)/83-L.C., S. No. 12.