“Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was struck down by the Supreme Court… the effect of the Shreya Singhal judgment is that Section 66A is void only as against citizens and not as against non-citizens. When this line of thought was voiced on fora… questions were raised as to whether… Section 66A was still available against non-citizens, such as corporates and other non-natural persons. The answer to that would lie inter alia in Bennett Coleman v. Union of India, AIR 1973 SC 106 where it was held that the shareholders exercise their rights under Article 19(1)(a) through the juristic person of the company and thus where the shareholders were citizens, their company was protected. However, as regards companies where the shareholders are not Indian, Section 66A would still apply.
It is now time to ask ourselves an important question.
What about 1984? … ”
“I thought I had argued the Bennett Coleman case for the Union of India extremely well… Justice A.N. Ray wrote the majority judgment. He wrote glowingly of the freedom of press… which in retrospect was pretentious posturing. Do not believe too much of what judges exuberantly say in their judgments. Often they say it for effect. They don’t mean it.”
Fali S. Nariman, Before Memory Fades – An Autobiography.
The effect? The bitterness of Fali S. Nariman. The memories are fading indeed! But Bennett Coleman continues to shine. Young lawyers are discovering the cunning passages of history.
One day, Chief Justice A.N. Ray will write about you. His memory never faded. The master.
“Why remember him now? One of the many answers is, while skeletons started tumbling the day after the Chief Justice retired, Ray CJ had ‘nothing to declare’; the second one is his story is in reality the history of our Supreme Court… which is worth recording.”