Ajay Goswami vs Union of India - Supreme Court Case
Ajay Goswami vs Union of India - Supreme Court Case Summary of Leading Case -
On 12th December, 2006, a two Judges Bench in Ajay Goswami vs Union of India & Ors [Writ Petition (Civil) No.384 of 2005] while considering the grievance of the writ petitioner that the freedom of speech and expression enjoyed by the newspaper industry is not keeping balance with the protection of children from harmful and disturbing obscene materials held that “any steps to ban publishing of certain news pieces or pictures would fetter the independence of free press which is one of the hallmarks” of the “democratic setup” in this country.
In the opinion of the Bench, “imposition of a blanket ban on the publication of certain photographs and news items etc. will lead to a situation where the newspaper will be publishing material which caters only to children and adolescents and the adults will be deprived of reading their share of their entertainment which can be permissible under the normal norms of decency in any society.”
Observing that the “definition of obscenity differs from culture to culture, between communities within a single culture, and also between individuals within those communities”, the Bench said that “a culture of ‘responsible reading’ should be inculcated among the readers of any news article” and “no news item should be viewed or read in isolation.”
“It is necessary that publication must be judged as a whole and news items, advertisements or passages should not be read without the accompanying message that is purported to be conveyed to the public. Also the members of the public and readers should not look for meanings in a picture or written article, which is not conceived to be conveyed through the picture or the news item”, the Bench said.
Finally observing that the “fertile imagination of anybody especially of minors should not be a matter that should be agitated in the Court of law” and that a “hypersensitive person” can subscribe to other Newspapers of his choice, which might not be against his standards of morality, the Bench dismissed the writ petition.