HC Deb 14 July 1914 vol 64 cc1684-5

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India when he expects to receive a full report of the case recently tried before the Punjab Chief Court, in which the keeper of the Zamindar Press of Lahore appealed against a declaration of forfeiture made by the Government of the Punjab under the Press Act; and whether, in view of the reports that have already been received showing the character of the articles in respect of which the declaration was made and the penalties involved, the Secretary of State is prepared to give some further consideration to the matter?


I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given him on the 7th instant. A full report of the judgment is expected next week, and pending its receipt the Secretary of State must reserve his opinion on the points raised in the latter part of the question.


asked whether it has been established that an applicant who appeals to the Courts under the Press Act, 1910, for relief against fine and forfeiture must show not merely that the words of his pamphlet or article are not likely to bring any section of His Majesty's subjects in India into hatred or contempt, but that it is impossible for the words in question, either directly or indirectly, to have that tendency; whether this has been described by an eminent judge in India as an almost hopeless task; and whether, in view of the harshness of these provisions and of the discontent that has been aroused, the Secretary of State will consider the advisability of discontinuing further proceedings against the Press until this Act has been modified or repealed?


The Secretary of State is advised that the judgment to which the hon. Member apparently refers need not be held to have established anything more than the validity of the forfeiture under Section 12 of the Indian Press Act of the particular publication in respect of which an appeal had been preferred. He is unable to say how far the terms of the judgment are applicable to cases under other Sections of the Act, or are likely to be followed by other High Courts, and he is unable to adopt the suggestion contained in the last part of the question.


In case it turns out that this ruling is considered applicable to all cases, will the Secretary of State reconsider his points with a view to modifying the law?


No, I do not think it can be considered applicable to all cases.