New Delhi, Jun 9 (PTI) A newspaper or an agency engaged in the dissemination of news cannot be viewed as performing a public function, the Delhi High Court has said.
The court’s observation came while dismissing a plea with allegations of racial discrimination and harassment by a private foreign news agency against a person who was working with it.
The high court held that the petition was not maintainable .
The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondent press agency clearly performs a public function and since allegations of racial discrimination have been levelled, the writ petition would clearly lie.
However, Justice Yashwant Varma said this submission could not be sustained.
“While it may be true that the second respondent (press agency) had been constituted by an Act by the Parliament of France, it becomes relevant to note that the newspaper or an agency engaged in the dissemination of news cannot be viewed as performing a public function,” the judge said.
The court said, “Regard must be had to the fact that the expression ‘public function’ and ‘public duty’ have been understood to be those which are akin to functions performed by the State in its sovereign capacity.” The court further notes that the contract of service between the petitioner and the second respondent is not imbued with any statutory flavour .
The counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the press agency has been constituted by an Act of Parliament of France, and its essential functions would indicate that it is an autonomous civil entity that has been constituted for the purpose to seek out, in France as well as abroad, the element of a complete and objective information service and to place that information at the disposal of users in exchange for payment.