Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the West Bengal government to make available leading newspapers in state-run and aided public libraries, 15 months after the government ordered the removal of most English- language newspapers.
A division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi directed the Trinamool Congress government to notify within two weeks the names of leading newspapers, many of which had been struck off from the list of publications available in state-run and aided libraries in April, 2012.
Passing the order on a PIL in this regard, the court also said that if the government failed to take the step within two weeks, then the court would be compelled to take necessary action. There are around 2,500 state-run libraries in the state.
The matter would come up for hearing again on July 17.
Counsel Basabi Rai Chowdhury had filed the petition before the high court claiming that the action of the government amounted to violation of Article 19 of the Constitution which provides for freedom of speech and expression.
The order was slammed by the Left with its leader Sitaram Yechury saying this is "worse" than censorship and that it had shades of "fascism".
The ban on some of the dailies also led Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju to seek a response from the Mamata Banerjee government on the order restricting the number of newspapers to be subscribed by the libraries to a prescribed list.