New Delhi: Freedom of the press is a requirement in any democratic society for its effective functioning and governments are required to respect this at all times, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
The apex court said the importance of the press is well established and is a valuable and sacred right enshrined under the Constitution.
"This right is required in any modern democracy without which there cannot be the transfer of information or requisite discussion for a democratic society," a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.
The observation came while delivering a judgement on a plea filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, who had submitted that since August 6 the newspaper's Kashmir edition has not been printed and published as complete and absolute restrictions on communication services and movement have resulted in the imposition of a de facto blockade on media activities, including reporting and publishing on the situation in the valley.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that editors of Kashmir Times chose not to publish their newspaper from Srinagar.
The apex court said that no evidence was put forth to establish that other individuals were also restricted in publishing newspapers in the area.
"Without such evidence having been placed on record, it would be impossible to distinguish a legitimate claim of chilling effect from a mere emotive argument for a self-serving purpose," it said.
"In view of these facts, and considering that the aforesaid petitioner has now resumed publication, we do not deem it fit to indulge more in the issue than to state that responsible governments are required to respect the freedom of the press at all times. Journalists are to be accommodated in reporting and there is no justification for allowing a sword of Damocles to hang over the press indefinitely," the court said.