The Bombay High Court has sought response of the Maharashtra government and the Nagpur civic body on a petition filed by an association of newspaper hawkers seeking a blanket restriction on door-to-door delivery of newspapers and their printing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The petition, filed by Nagpur Daily Newspaper Hawkers and Sub-Agents Welfare Association on Tuesday, said their
members are required to go door-to-door to deliver newspapers and would come in contact with several persons. Thus, they would be at the risk of getting infected by coronavirus.
"Further, chances of the virus spreading from the newspaper surface can also be not ruled out. The newspaper moves from hand to hand before being finally delivered to the customer, the plea said.
It said while initially the government had restricted door-to-door delivery of newspapers across the state, the
order was later amended and delivery was prohibited only in Mumbai, Pune and in containment zones of other districts.
The petition, filed through advocate R B Khan, termed the April 21, 2020 amended order of the government as unconstitutional and illegal and sought for it to be quashed and set aside.
The plea further claimed that newspaper managements and the Press Council of India are only worried about the
business of publication and gaining profit, but not concerned about the hawkers and customers.
"The government had initially taken effective steps to ensure that the public at large and hawkers delivering
newspapers are not put at the risk of getting infected by Covid-19, and correctly banned printing of newspapers across the state, the petition said.
The amended order of the government permitting door-to-door delivery of newspapers, except in Mumbai, Pune and
containment zones of other districts, is discriminatory, the petition added.
Nagpur is also in red zone and has now been put under a lockdown on par with that of Mumbai Metropolitan Region and
Pune Metropolitan Region, the petition said.
Justice A S Kilor on Tuesday directed the government and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to file their affidavits
on the petition by May 12.