DR. RUTHERFORD (Middlesex, Brentford)
I beg to ask the Under-secretary of State for India whether he will state what is the meaning of the words conditional order in the Indian Press Act VII., of 1908; what are the conditions to which such an order is subject; and whether its effect is to attach the Press or in any way to interfere with the publication of an offending newspaper before the persons concerned have been afforded the opportunity of appearing before the magistrate to show cause why the order should not be made absolute.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I do not think the Question necessarily implies concessions to anybody. The words "conditional order" indicate that the order will not be capable of execution until it is made absolute. The effect of such an order is not of itself to attach the Press or interfere with the publication of a newspaper before the appearance directed by the order; such attachment would require a separate order under subsection (3) of Section 3.
§ MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, under the new Indian Press Act, in cases of emergency power is given to a single magistrate, who need not be a barrister, to attach by a summary order newspapers 79 and printing-presses without the proprietors or editors having been heard in their own defence; whether the Act provides who is to be the judge of the emergency; and whether there is any appeal to the High Court against such an order.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
The text of the Act is in the hon. Member's hands and he is responsible for the paraphrase given in the first part of his Question. The magistrate to whom the application is made is the judge of the emergency. If, on the hearing of the case, the magistrate is not satisfied under Section 3 (6) of the Act he will set aside the order of attachment. An appeal lies by Section 5 to the High Court against any order of forfeiture which may follow upon attachment, and if the appeal is successful the order of attachment falls to the ground.
§ MR. MACKARNESS
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for India whether under the new Indian Press Act, where an order absolute has been made by a single magistrate forfeiting a newspaper and printing-press, the order becomes, in all cases, operative in spite of an appeal to the High Court having been lodged by the defendant; and, if so, whether the Secretary of State will take steps to expedite the hearing of such appeals, and to provide that they be heard by a Court of not less than three Judges.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
It is open to the High Court on receiving an appeal to suspend or otherwise to modify, pending the hearing of the appeal, any order of forfeiture. It is the invariable custom of the High Courts to deal promptly with criminal appeals, and no steps are necessary in order to expedite the hearing. It is not considered necessary to provide that appeals shall be heard by a Court of not less than three Judges.