The Mamata Banerjee government received another slap on the wrist from the Calcutta high court on Thursday over its ban on mainstream dailies in public libraries.
Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi hinted they would quash the ban, if the state did not withdraw it within two weeks.
In April 2012, following widespread criticism in the media over Trinamool Congress leaders’ and ministers’ response to a spate of rape cases, the government had ordered that only some selected newspapers could be kept at government and government sponsored libraries.
The list excluded all the leading newspapers, and included two dailies from the Saradha Group stable, which has stopped publication following the scam.
This circular drew widespread criticism from the civil society and the opposition. The resulting PIL, which the court was hearing, argued that the state could not dictate what the citizens read.
“It for the people, and not for the state, to decide which newspaper they would read,” said the petitioner’s advocate. “The state could not discriminate against other newspapers by permitting purchase of some in public libraries.”