|Petitioner||Express Newspaper Private Limited and Ors.|
|Respondent||Union of India and Ors.|
|Equivalent Citations||1986 AIR 872, 1985 SCR Supl. (3) 382, 1986 SCC (1) 259, 1985 SCALE (2)973|
|Date of Ruling||07/10/1985|
|Forum||Supreme Court of India|
|Judges||A. P. Sen (J) E.S. Venkataramiah (J) R.B. Misra (J)|
Facts of the Case
The Central Government in the year 1949 demarcated some area along Bahadur Sah Zafar Marg, New Delhi. Plots were allotted to various newspaper agencies. Some of them were Indian Express, National Herald, Times of India, etc. An agreement regarding this lease took place between petitioner and Secretary to Chief Commissioner of Delhi. When Lt. Governor took charge, he called for enquiry regarding building construction by Express Newspaper. Several notices were issued to the petitioner to show cause as to why the building should not be demolished. The petitioner challenged the validity of notices mentioned above before the Supreme Court on the ground that Lt. Governor was not entrusted with such powers and he is not a successor of Chief Commissioner of Delhi. The petitioner also challenged the import duty that was levied on newspaper printing through Customs tariff Act, 1975. The Government contended that it would classify them as small, medium and large companies for tax purposes. It also contended that that levying of taxes is necessary for increasing revenue of the Government, which would benefit the public. Newspaper agencies should not be fully exempted. They also said that the new building constructed by Express Newspaper is illegal. 
Articles, Acts and Rules
- Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution
- Article 14 and 19 of the Indian Constitution
- Articles 239(1), 53(1), 72, 77, 240 & 298 of the Constitution
- Delhi Development Act, 1957
- Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957
- Doctrine of Ultravires
- Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel
Cases which were referred to in this case
- State of Orissa v. Ram Chandra Dev AIR 1964 SC 685
This case was affirmed by judges. It was held that if there is any unauthorized construction by the lessee on the Government land, such person will be held to be an unauthorized occupant.
- Sakal Papers (P) Ltd. v. The Union of India (1962) 3 S.C.R. 842
In this case, the Court interpreted Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.
- Bennett Coleman & Co. v. Union of India,  2 S.C.R. 757
This case decided whether the restriction on newsprint under 1955 order was violative of Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.
- Dawakhana v. Union of India, (1960) 2 S.C.R. 671
- Ramesh Chandra Kachardas Porwal v. State of Maharashtra,  2 S C.R. 866 and many other cases. 
- Whether classifying newspapers for the tax is discriminatory under Article 14 of the Constitution?
- Whether served notice is in accordance with law or arbitrary?
- Whether Lt. Governor failed to make a distinction between the power concerning the subject ‘Property of the Union and the revenue therefrom’ and the general powers of administration entrusted to him under Article 239 of the Constitution as the Administrator of the Union Territory of Delhi?
- Whether the right to occupy land leased is for printing press installation is within Article 19, or it is a right that arose due to contract?
- Whether the Express Newspaper obtained prior and proper permission for the new building from competent authority?
- Whether construction of the new building is against clauses 2(5) and 2(14) of the lease deed?
Whether classifying newspapers for the tax is discriminatory under Article 14 of the Constitution? 
Judgment: The Court gave the judgment that classifying newspaper agency as small, medium or big for the tax assessment is not discriminatory. It also held that this decision could not be held as arbitrary and against Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Analysis: The decision of classifying newspaper agencies cannot be held to be an arbitrary decision because the newspaper agencies were enjoying other privileges and exemptions as any other industry. However, the Government needs taxes for the proper functioning and to fulfil public interest. The Government proposed to levy taxes according to the size of the industries so that, the industries which may not be able to pay taxes or whose publication and circulation may be affected to a considerable level may be exempted. However, the judges also mentioned the same that imposition of taxes is necessary, but this tax imposition must not affect the very fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
Whether served notice is in accordance with law or arbitrary?
Judgment: The Court held that notices served to the petitioner to show cause that why the building should not be demolished is illegal and they must be quashed. In the words of E.S. Venkataramiah (J), the notices suffer from arbitrariness and non-application of mind.
Analysis: The notices that were served to the petitioner by the different respondent regarding show cause as to why the building should not be demolished, were impugned notices, and they show arbitrariness. It is also evident that these notices were issued by concerned authorities under pressure and not the free will. It looks like those authorities did not consider properly before issuing such notices.
Whether Lt. Governor failed to make a distinction between the power concerning the subject ‘Property of the Union and the revenue therefrom’ and the general powers of administration entrusted to him under Article 239 of the Constitution as the Administrator of the Union Territory of Delhi?
Judgment: The Hon’ble Court was of the view that Lt. Governor failed to make a distinction between the power with respect to the subject ‘Property of the Union and the revenue therefrom’ which is in Entry 32 of List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and the general powers of administration entrusted to him under Article 239 of the Constitution as the Administrator of the Union Territory of Delhi.
Analysis: It may be concluded that Lt. Governor cannot exercise all powers which are related to the property of the Central Government. He is empowered to exercise those duties regarding which he is equipped. He cannot work arbitrarily. He must abide by the laws and Constitution of India.
Whether the right to occupy land leased is for printing press installation is within Article 19 or right that arose due to contract?
The Court did not express any opinion regarding the rights that may arise from the contract. Court also gave the parties the option to file a different suit regarding this matter in civil courts. The Court also said that all questions regarding lease could not be decided on affidavits and they are out of the purview of Article 32. Justice Misra was of the view that right to land and construct the building is not affected by Article 19. They are generally regulated by other laws such as The Delhi Development Act, 1957, the Master Plan, the Zonal Development Plan. He also said that the purpose for which the building is being constructed does not matter in this regard.
Whether the Express Newspaper obtained prior and proper permission for the new building from competent authority?
Judgment: The Court declared that on analyzing the evidence produced by petitioner, it is evident that proper permission has been obtained from the competent authorities and authorities were well aware of the construction work by Express Newspaper.
Analysis: It is evident that from the fact that various departments provided NOC and also they were made about the sewer problem that was obstructing the construction of building in plot 8,9,10, that departments were aware about the construction. The Court also applied the doctrine of estoppels while giving this conclusion. The Government at first be cautious if the construction of the building was wrong, but, after giving NOC regarding construction work, the Government cannot take it back.
Whether construction of the new building is against clauses 2(5) and 2(14) of the lease deed? 
Judgment: The Court concluded on this behalf that construction of building with increased Floor Area Ratio and double basement did not violate any of the terms provided in clauses 2(5) and 2(14) of the lease deed.
Analysis: Since the Court said that it has material evidence regarding this issue, it may be held that construction of building did not breach any terms and condition provided in clauses 2(5) and 2(14) of the deed.
A Bench of three judges held that notices regarding demolishing building issued by Zonal Engineers, Municipal Corporation, etc. are quashed. Court also held that these notices were issued due to pressure created by the respondent. The Hon’ble Court declared that building was constructed after prior and proper permission from necessary authorities. The Court also said that the Government might ask for taxes from the newspaper companies, even while determining taxes, the Government may classify them as small, middle and large category and this categorization is not arbitrary. However, the Court added that the Government must be flexible in those cases where the taxes may affect the publication and circulation of newspapers.
The Court also outlined that reasonable restrictions can be allowed if the freedom of speech and expression is affecting the public interest. The Court directed to both petitioner as well as respondent that they should help each other i.e. newspaper agencies as they enjoy other benefits like industries must help the Government in tax purposes by giving reasonable share as taxes, while the Government while imposing taxes must ensure that it should not affect the circulation of the newspaper as to violate freedom of expression in any way. For this, the Government may re-examine and re-evaluate tax assessment policies.
Significance of the case
This case is one of the landmark cases dealing with the fundamental right of speech and expression and restrictions that could be imposed on this right. This case is a beautiful application of ‘direct effect’ test, when the freedom of speech and expression is affected and when the public interest and welfare is being affected.  While the decision was being given the interest of the newspaper agency was also seen. This case was further useful and was cited in different cases. This case paved a path in determining the factors that may affect freedom of press.
Frequently Asked Questions
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