Potpourri

THE TRIALS OF GANDHIJI

THE TRIALS OF GANDHIJI

After citing numerous English authorities with respect to Contempt of Court, His Lordship proceeds:

One can easily see the evils which would arise if it were permissible to publish a plaint containing (say) charges of fraud against some respectable man before he could even put in his answer, and long before the charges could be judicially determined.

I may refer to one more case, not because it lays down any new law, but because it brings the English authorities up-to-date and illustrates the restrictions imposed there on the liberty of the press, which, as pointed out by Lord Russell in Reg. vs. Gray 1900, 2 Q. B. 36 at p. 40, is on these matters “no greater and no less than the liberty of every subject of the king”. The case is Reg. vs. Empire News Limited as is reported in the London Times of 20th January 1920, and was heard by Lord Chief Justice of England and Mr. Justice Avory and Mr. Justice Sankey. There the newspaper had commented on a pending murder case, but did not attempt to justify its action in so doing, and the proprietors and editor expressed their deepest regret and contrition to the Court. In delivering judgment, the Earl of Reading said:

“The Court could not permit the investigation of murder to be taken out of the hands of the proper authorities and to be carried on by newspapers. The liberty of the individual even when he was suspected of crime and indeed even more so when he was charged with crimes, must be protected, and it was the function of the Court to prevent the publication of articles which were likely to cause prejudice. The only doubt in the case was whether the Court ought to commit the editor to prison. The Court had come to the conclusion that in the circumstances it must mark its sense of the offence committed, which was an offence both by the proprietors and editor, by imposing a fine of £ 1000.”

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