New Delhi, June 11
Arguing that newspapers and news agencies are not subject to written jurisdiction under Section 226 of the Constitution as they do not exercise public office, the Delhi High Court declined to entertain the allegations. of racial discrimination against the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“While it is true that the second defendant (AFP) was constituted by an act of the French Parliament, it becomes relevant to note that the newspaper or an agency engaged in the dissemination of information cannot be considered to exercise a public function. . said Judge Yashwant Varma in an order passed earlier this month.
Claiming to be a victim of racial discrimination, petitioner Arun Singh argued that the AFP exercised a public function and that since allegations of racial discrimination had been made, the petition for an injunction was admissible.
He stated that AFP had been constituted by a law enacted by the French Parliament and that its essential functions would indicate that it was an autonomous legal person constituted to obtain in France and abroad complete and objective information and to put this information available to users in exchange for payment.
However, the high court found the argument untenable. “It must be taken into account that the expressions ‘public function’ and ‘public duty’ have been understood as those akin to functions exercised by the State in its sovereign capacity,” he said, adding the service contract between Singh and AFP were not imbued with any statutory flavor.
She explained that the expressions “public function” and “public duty” should be understood as relating to functions exercised by the State in its sovereign capacity.
Citing Supreme Court verdicts, the HC said a mandamus order or section 226 remedy is primarily a public law remedy and not generally available as a remedy for private wrongs.
Although a summons could also be issued against any private body or person, particularly in view of the terms used in article 226, the scope of mandamus was limited to the performance of a public duty, he said. precise.