The Madras High Court Bench consisting of J. N. Kirubakaran and J. R. Hemalatha, dismissed a plea against exemption granted to the print media from the nationwide lockdown. The court was hearing the case T. Ganesh Kumar v. Union of India & Ors. The court observed that, “Mere apprehensions or least probability cannot be a ground to prohibit the publication of newspapers as it would amount to violation of the fundamental rights, of not only the publisher, editor but also the readers, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution of India.”
The Petitioner had claimed that papers, especially the newspapers can be a ‘potential carrier’ of coronavirus. He further stated that newspapers are published and supplied to people. The infection could spread even if the delivery boy is infected with the virus. He backed up his arguments by a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study namely, “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-COV-2 as compared with SARS-COV-1”. The study asserted that the virus can survive in the newspapers for 4-5 days. But the Bench observed that such researches are ‘preliminary in nature’ and these speculations are not ‘conclusive‘.
Court further held, by relying upon the study submitted by the petitioner that the risk of spreading of disease through newspapers is least probable. Adding, that washing hands with soap after handling the newspapers or currency notes would curb the transmission. The Madras High Court concluded by quoting “Newspapers have become more important to the average man than the scriptures.” While also commenting that even the countries where these researches had been conducted, had not prohibited the publication of newspapers.