“It has come to our notice there are some housing societies and resident welfare associations which are not allowing distribution of newspapers to their residents, which is illegal, wrong and challenges the integrity of our society,” Urja president Atul Goyal said in a statement released on Saturday. Community leaders, RWA presidents, secretaries and office bearers are advised not to interfere in the home delivery service or act in violation of the orders of the competent authorities, making them liable for punishment.
“In these times of rumours and fake news, it is newspapers that bring in credibility and uphold the right of information for the people,” he said. “Circulation and distribution of newspapers is an inseparable and essential part of dissemination of information and is protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution of India, guaranteeing right to free speech.” Urja stressed that this would also restart the cycle of economic activity besides helping to spread awareness.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that newspapers have tremendous credibility and, by acting as a link between the government and the people, play a critical role in creating awareness about the Covid-19 outbreak at both the national and regional levels,” Urja said. “There is absolutely no bar on door-to-door distribution of newspapers.”
It cited a home ministry letter in late March after the lockdown was imposed that said newspaper delivery was exempt from restrictions. Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla had told state chief secretaries that “the entire newspaper delivery chain will continue to be allowed to operate as part of exemptions granted to the print media,” Goyal said. “Hence all must adhere to the laws of the land and cannot stop the entry of newspaper distributors into housing societies and the distribution of newspapers to the homes of citizens.’’
Urja also said that home delivery of newspapers was an essential service that would safeguard the livelihoods of thousands of newspaper distributors, who are an essential part of the chain. On Friday, the Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MahaSewa) asked housing societies in the state to allow newspaper deliveries, saying any bar on this was illegal. Several housing societies and RWAs in Maharashtra don’t allow distribution of newspapers to residents. The state government had allowed deliveries to resume on June 7.
Home delivery of newspapers is an essential service that “should not face any hindrance,” MahaSewa chairman Ramesh S Prabhu had said in the letter to RWAs and other housing societies. MahaSewa is the largest association of housing societies in the state. Preventing the distribution of newspapers is “wrong” and “not legal,” he pointed out.