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Research Monograph On

Freedom of Press and Contempt of Court in Bangladesh

Table of Contents
Page No.
Chapter I
Introductory part
1.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 3
1.2 Research Methodology ......................................................................................................... 4
1.3 Scope and Objectives of the Research .................................................................................. 4
1.4 Nature & Scope of the Research ........................................................................................... 5
1.5 Limitations ............................................................................................................................ 5
Chapter II
Concept Analysis
2.1 Freedom of Press................................................................................................................... 6
2.1.1 Freedom of Press: As a Concept .................................................................................... 6
2.1.2 Objectives of Freedom of Press: .................................................................................... 7
2.1.3 Duties of Press in relation to court:................................................................................ 7
2.2 Contempt of Court ................................................................................................................ 8
2.2.2 Nature of Contempt Proceeding: ................................................................................... 9
2.2.3 Purpose of Law of Contempt: ...................................................................................... 10
2.3 Contempt of Court & Freedom of Press discussion: .......................................................... 11
Chapter III
Freedom of Press in Bangladesh
3.1 Press & the successive government .................................................................................... 12
3.2 Media Organizations ........................................................................................................... 13
Chapter IV

Analysis of Major Press Regulations
4.1 Official Secrets Act: ............................................................................................................ 14
4.2 Special Power Act: .............................................................................................................. 15
4.3 Printing Presses and Publications Act: ............................................................................... 16
4.4 Penal Code .......................................................................................................................... 17
4.5 Code of Criminal Procedure ............................................................................................... 18
4.6 Newspapers (Annulment of Declaration) Ordinance .......................................................... 18
4.6.1 Annulment of Declaration of Certain Newspapers ...................................................... 18
4.6.2 Cancellation of Declaration for Breach of Conditions ................................................ 18
4.7 Marital Law Orders ............................................................................................................. 18
4.7.1 Penalty for Criticizing Martial Law ............................................................................. 19
Chapter V
Publications, Publishers and the New Media
5.1 Publication .......................................................................................................................... 20
5.1.1 Speech .......................................................................................................................... 21
5.1.2 Writing ......................................................................................................................... 21
5.1.3 Programme included in a programme service ............................................................. 22
5.1.4 Communication in whatever form ............................................................................... 23
5.2 Addressed to the Public at Large or Any Section of the Public.......................................... 24
5.3 Who Is Responsible for a Publication? ............................................................................... 26
5.4 The Time of the Publication ............................................................................................... 32
5.4.1 Present law ................................................................................................................... 32
Chapter VI
Contempt in the Face of the Court
6.1 Present Law ......................................................................................................................... 36
6.1.1 Contempt in the Face of the Court ............................................................................... 36
6.1.2 The Proscribed Conduct ............................................................................................... 36
6.1.3 Administration of Justice ............................................................................................. 37
6.1.4 Other than by Contempt Proceedings .......................................................................... 37

Chapter VII
Concluding Remarks
7.1 Findings............................................................................................................................... 39
7.2 Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 40

Chapter I
Introductory part
1.1 Introduction
Media play a critical role in Bangladesh as one of the main watchdogs of the nation on
corruption. The notion of press media as a fourth estate, or as a powerful watchdog is more
than 200 years old. By drawing attention to behavior that is usually perceived as acceptable and
exposing unacceptable behavior as corrupt; media have the potentiality to raise public awareness,
activate anti-corruption values, and generate outside pressure from the public against corruption.
Objective and qualitative reporting of media on corruption can perform a significant role in
pressuring the government to act in the public interest. In a recent article, Rick Stapenhurst
maintained that media reporting on corruption can have two distinct types of impacts: tangible
and intangible. Tangible impact is the visible and identifiable outcomes of reporting occur when
media investigate and expose incidents of corruption; for instance, the launching of investigation
by Anti-Corruption Commission. On the other hand, intangible impact of media reporting is not
immediately obvious. Such effect is basically the creation of anti-corruption symphony in the
society where corruption can be checked. In this respect, media can promote a democratic culture
by exposing government activities, thereby raising public awareness about corrupt behavior and
practices, and by educating the public about the causes, consequences and its potential cures. In
fact, both the effects of media on corruption can generate public opposition to corruption. The
effectiveness of media in combating corruption however depends on a number of critical factors
that are found to be confined to the political, economic, and legal environment of a country in
which the media operate. The key factors are: media freedom of expression, access to
information, professional and ethical standard of journalists or credibility, ownership and
competition. This thesis is freedom of press and contempt of court in Bangladesh.

1.2 Research Methodology

This study will be conducted on the basis of secondary sources such as collecting data from
internet, taking some relevant sections from Acts, find out some relevant evidence from some
books and Journals.

We know well that there are many different ways to approach the research that fulfils the
requirements of a dissertation. These may vary both within and between disciplines. It is
important to consider the expectations and possibilities concerning research in our own field. I
can do this by talking to my supervisor Mr. Md. Khairul Islam. So I have tried to my level best to
identify the laws, policies and programs of the court regarding contempt and mass media.

1.3 Scope and Objectives of the Research

The key aim of thesis is the freedom of media and contempt of court in Bangladesh.

Followings are as well as scope and the objectives of this research paper-

To finalize with the term press laws and contempt of court laws in Bangladesh.
To conform with the press laws and contempt of court laws existing in Bangladesh.
To assess the Constitutional prerequisite and state-run legal framework with reference to
free will of press and disrespect of the court law.
To accumulate the wide-ranging, trustworthy, expressive information about different
aspect and dynamic of customary court proceedings and pressmen job to realize the
To adapt, test and refined the methodology for collecting qualitative information on
disrespect of Court and liberty of press.
To identify the laws, policies and programs of the court regarding contempt and mass
To ascertain the troubles of the aged laws as to condescension of court and to proposal
for new one.
To formulate a number of recommendations for effectiveness of existing laws.

1.4 Nature & Scope of the Research
The range of this study includes the vicinity of information obligatory to accumulate and
scrutinize on the topic of the self-determination of press and disrespect of court laws. This notion
cramped surrounded by the significant case laws, in print articles, books, bare Acts, newspaper,
dictionaries, web links of different as scholars and jurists.

1.5 Limitations
This research is the most important topic Freedom of press and Contempt of the court in
Bangladesh. Nevertheless, I shall try my best level best to collect the information on the topic
refer to the research paper but to prepare the research I faced various barrier concerning
information. Our NUB library has not well amount of books on the topic the time period is not

Chapter II
Concept Analysis
2.1 Freedom of Press

2.1.1 Freedom of Press: As a Concept

Press and freedom both are mingled with each other. In general, freedom of press means freedom
of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of thought and conscience. The relation with press its
that, to publish such rights through news paper or printing book what is press liberty is defined
by different angle-which are-

In the Webster dictionary as the right to publish information or opinions without governmental
restriction subject to the laws of libel, obscenity, Sedition etc. In the broadest scene freedom of
the press means no previous censorship any prosecution for free expression other than on widely
accepted principles of the general law, and no interference with lawful distribution or conveying

The liberty of press covers printed matter of all finds and not merely newspaper periodicals.
Black the liberty of press says Black stone consists in laying no previous restrain upon
publications and not in freedom from consure for criminal matter when published. This liberty
said lord Mansfield in Dean of st. Araphs cases, consists in printing without any previous license,
subject to the consequence of law. Alexander Hamilton said the freedom of press is the right to
publish with impunity, truth, with good motives, for justifiable ends though reflecting on
government, magistracy or individuals. Bangladesh press commission in a report state that right
of freedom of expression is an in divisible right of the people. Freedom of express comprised
with freedom of speech and freedom press and these there are based on same principle.2 Thus,
freedom of consist of the right to publish views not only of the newspaper, but also its
correspondent and others.

Frank Thayer, Legal control of the press (The Foundation press. Inc. Booklyn,1956) Page -1
Shekhar Sudhangsu Ray;s article sangbadikata; Sangbadik & Sangbadpara 1994 1 st edition, 21 Feb. 1994 2nd
edition, page 112.

2.1.2 Objectives of Freedom of Press:
The press and media played a historical role during the war of liberation, the views expressed in
their needs paper are always pro-people and it always contains feature, which are constructive
criticism of various government programmers and police.3 Their roles are most complementary
and supporting in mobilizing the opinion to ensure justice. They have some specific object by
which it runs its business:

To Information
To Education
To Persuade
To Entertain

In addition, it has three some other purposes which are-

a. Promotion of democracy and pluralistic societies.

b. Strengthening of transparent, accountable efficient and effective nation Govt.
c. Reinforcement of the rule of law including fair and accessible legal and judicial system.4

2.1.3 Duties of Press in relation to court:

Mark Toaild said, every day two sun are risen one is morning sun another is associate press
(means press sun). The whole world illuminated by sun, like sun the press is also lighting the
every bodys life by removing all dark in the society. That the invective journalism has a great
effectiveness, which brought to public notice and theyre by mobilized public opinion for justice
against crimes. These roles of press and media in perhaps the most effective ingredient that
strengthens the hand of the judiciary in doing justice against the powerful. So, the press and
media have plenty of duties in regard to court, which are catalyst as thus-

B1. Comm IV, 151
C. H. Chowdhurys Thirty Years of Bangladesh politice, The university Press Limited, 1 st Published 2002, page-

I) It is a duty of true and responsible journalist to strive to inform the people with
accurate and impartial presentation of news and their views after dispassionate
evaluation of the facts and information received by them and to be published as a
news item.5
II) Newspapers are under no compulsion to publish remarks offensive to court in bold
heading. They should exercise restraint in reporting matters which might have a
tendency to court reflection on judiciary of country. Supreme court accepting
unconditional apologies of newspaper and discharging notices issued to them court,
however placing on record it displeasure at lack of sense of responsibility shown by
respondent sews papers in publishing statement which prima facie amounted to
contempt of court. Court also expressing hope that in future press would exercise due
care and caution in giving publicity to such matters INLR 1978 criminal 1650.
III) That the press must refrain from published any libelous and malicious comment,
which tar image the court and hurt harm the efficacy of the justice delivery system.
IV) If is very aspect and very moment dignity, prestige and integrity and image of the
court shall be maintained in utmost respect.
V) The report must publish in good faith and bonafide in public interest and without
VI) No new exposed of which cause to brake the confidence of the public upon judiciary.6

Lastly it is the duty of the press to strengthen the hard of judiciary.

2.2 Contempt of Court

2.2.1 Contempt of Court: Concept Analysis

The phrase contempt of court does not in the least describe the true nature of the class of
offence with which we are here concerned

The offence consists in interfering with the administration of law; in impending and perverting
the course of justiceit is not the dignity of the Court which is offended- a petty and misleading
view of the issues involved it is the fundamental supremacy of the law which is challenged.

People v Cronwell (1804) 3 Johns (N. Y) 337
C.H. Chowdhurys Thirty Years of Bangladesh Politics, The University Press limited, 1 st Published 2002. Page-

It has been said that the law of contempt is of ancient origin yet of fundamental contemporary
importance (Miller: Contempt of Court: 1976). Contempt of court certainly has a long history
contempt us curiae is said to have been recognized phrase in English law since the 12th century.
It is said to have its origins in the medieval devolution of royal powers to the courts from a
monarch who was believed to be divinely appointed and accountable only to God. Be that as it
may, it seems clear from the earliest legal history that the common law courts in England have
assumed the power to coerce those who obstruct the power to coerce those who obstruct the
administration of justice. One result of this continuing development and concern to protect the
many facts of the4 administration of justice is that there are many forms of contempt. One
commentator (Joseph Moskovitz: Contempt of Injunctions: 1943) has described contempt as
The proteus of the legal world assuming an almost infinite diversity of forms, but equally it
can be said that contempt of court is as diverse as are the means of interfering with the due
course of justice.

2.2.2 Nature of Contempt Proceeding:

Any willful disobedience to, or disregard of a court order or any misconduct in the presence of a
court; action that interferes with a judges ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity
of the Court; punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.

There are both civil and criminal contempts; the distinction is often unclear. A judge who feels
someone is improperly challenging or ignoring the courts authority has the power to declare the
defiant person (called the contemnor) in contempt of court. There are two types of contempt-
criminal and civil. Criminal contempt- It occurs when the contemnor actually interferes with the
ability of the court to function properly- for example, by yelling at the judge. This is also called
direct contempt because it occurs directly in front of the judge. A criminal contemnor may be
find, jailed or both as punishment for his act.7

Criminal contempt of court is generally committed in following ways: (a) contempt by

publication, (b) contempt in the face of the court and (c) disobedience to judgment and others of
the court including undertakings given by a party to the court. As Lord Diplock said in AG v.
Leveller Magazine Ltd. (1979 AC 440 at 449): They all share a common characteristic: they
involve an interference with the due administration of justice either in a particular case or more

People v Cronwell (1804) 3 Johns (N. Y) 337

generally as a continuing process. Civil contempt- It occurs when the contemnor willfully
disobeys a court order. This is also called indirect contempt because it occurs outside the judges
immediate realm and evidence must be presented to the judge to prove the contempt. A civil
contemnor, too, may be find, jailed or both. The fine or jailing is meant to coerce the contemnor
into obeying the court, not to punish him and the contemnor will be released from jail just as
soon as he complies with the court order. In family law, civil contempt is one way a court
enforces alimony, child support, custody and visitation orders, which have been violated.
However, many courts have realized that, at least regarding various procedural matters such as
appointment of counsel, the distinction between civil and criminal contempt is often blurred and

One clear distinction is between criminal and civil contempt of court. The distinction between
the two is that civil contempt involves disobedience to a court order or breach of an undertaking
in civil proceedings, whereas a criminal contempt of court is committed either when there is
contempt in the face of the court or there is interference in the course of justice. Criminal
contempt of court brings with it intention or men sera.

2.2.3 Purpose of Law of Contempt:

One of the basic principles of justice is that a person is entitled to a fair trial free from prejudice.
No system of justice can be effective unless a trial fair to both sides is ensured and there are
many rules of law and practice intended to support this principle. Among them are the rules of
natural justice, for example, that no man shall be a judge in his own cause. The fairness of trials
can be adversely affected by all kinds of conduct and publications. A subtler but no less
important aspect of law of contempt is scandalizing a court. Public faith in the proper
administration of justice and in the authority of the law, which is essential for an ordered society,
is of course promoted and supported in many ways. The law of contempt gives one kind of
support by providing a sanction against scurrilous abuse of judges or allegations that a judge or
court is biased. Both scandalizing the court and the type of criminal contempt involved in
prejudicing one particular trial are sometimes referred to as constructive contempts.9

8 (Last visited on 08-08-2014)
9 (last visited 09 August 2014)

2.3 Contempt of Court & Freedom of Press discussion:
One aspect of contempt that deserves special mention is to protect and maintain the authority and
integrity of the court. Although there is a public interest in doing this, the rules thereby imposed
also may impede and ultimately conflict with another public interest or fundamental right,
namely, freedom of discussion which is a part of freedom of speech and freedom of the press
(Article 39 of the Constitution of Bangladesh). Freedom of discussion is an important public
interest for as Lord Simon said in AG v. Times Newspapers Ltd. (1974: AC at 315): People
cannot adequately influence decisions which affects their lives unless they can be adequately
informed on facts and arguments relevant to the decisions. It is not easy to reconcile these two
public interests. On the other hand, with the advent of newspapers with large circulations, radio
and television, there is arguably a greater need of vigilance to maintain the authority of the
courts, on the other hand freedom of speech is part and parcel of democracy. It is abundantly
clear that democracy cannot flourish where one group is able to suppress the voices of another.
The democratic to environment to which people of Bangladesh aspire is a complex system of
checks and balances with various components including the legal system and the media,
performing vital functions. Another function of the media is arguably to pursue truth through
investigate journalism.

Chapter III
Freedom of Press in Bangladesh
3.1 Press & the successive government
Bangladesh became independent on December 16, 1971 and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman became the President of the country. He started to rebuild the war-torn country
depending largely on a sense of dynamic leadership and political charisma. At the beginning of
his regime (1972-73), The Bangladesh Press enjoyed considerable freedom. But by 1973, the
picture began changing. Mujibur replaced the 1961 Pakistani press Ordinance with the Printing
Presses and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act. Under this new Act, newspapers
were subject to licensing. Other influential journals were confiscated by the regime. The
assassination and overthrow of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975 brought a
brief respite for the troubled press. The new government under President Khondakar Mushtaque
Ahmed reversed the confiscation process and returned the Daily Ittefaq and the Daily Sangbad
(News) to their owners along with gradually permitting others to resume publication. Yet another
military coup toppled Mushtaque within months, and a new government came to power with
General Zia Rahman in control. This military ruler instituted authoritarian rule for a decade and a
half. Some of newspapers returned to government management and other were under constant
dictation through official orders. After the assassination of the General Zia in 1981, the process
leading to martial law was reinforced in March 1982 by General Hossain Mohammad Ershad. He
ordered the suspension of a number of newspapers. With the return of a democratically elected
government in 1991, the situation changed a little. The interim government introduced and
amendment to the Special Power Act and Printing Presses and publication Act, which relaxed
some of the boundaries on the press. Later the Khaleda Zia and Sheik Hasina government did not
fulfill their Three- Alliance Framework to repeal or amend the regulations which infringed on
freedom of the press. It worthwhile to note that Sheik Hasina government formed a Committee

on the Autonomy of Bangladesh Radio and Television as part of a commitment under the stated
Framework, but the report of the committee has not yet been implemented.10

3.2 Media Organizations

The Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUIJ) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ)
have been looking at the working relationships of practicing journalists and their employers. The
primary objective of these bodies is to improve the working conditions of journalists and to firth
for the removal of barriers in the execution of their duties. These barriers include laws that relate
to the gathering and dissemination of information in and around Bangladesh. The press
institution of Bangladesh, popularly known as PIB, is an institute set up by the government to
provide professional training to working journalists. The National Institute of mass
Communication (NIMCO) is another institute set by the government for the training of
journalists, those employed mainly in television and radio. The Bangladesh Center for the
Development of Journalism Commission (BCDJC) is a non-government organization, which
works with media research, and journalism training organizations. Mass- line Media Center
(MMC) is another non-government organization that works on the issues of human rights, good
governance and local press in the coastal districts. These organizations provide civil society
support for the development of a free and development press. In 1974, the Bangladesh press
freedom and preserving what little of it existed as well as working for the improvement of the
standards for newspapers and news agencies in Bangladesh. It was crested to defend the ethics of
the journalism profession. But for the last twenty years, the press Council has not taken a bold
stance against governmental interference. Transformed into a tool controlled by successive
regimes, and incapable of enforcing any of its infrequent decisions, the press Council has
protected neither the countrys press, nor its citizens. Khaleda Zias administration has done
nothing to safeguard the institutions independence and credibility.11

Golam Kibriya, The Press in Bangladesh and Issues of Mass Media (Dhaka: Sunday Publication, 1985), page 21-
Ibid, page-34

Chapter IV
Analysis of Major Press Regulations:
4.1 Official Secrets Act:
In Bangladesh there are laws, which actually permit public officials to decline to divulge
information to the media. The most notorious of these is the Officials Secrets Act {Chapter XIII
& Act No XIX} of 1923. The Act has a British colonial inheritance, which is the exact replica of
the (English) Officials Secrets Act 1911. Sections 3, 3(1), 5, 5(2), 14 set out the prohibitions and
offences, which pertain to journalistic performance. According to these provisions:

Any person who has in his possession or under his control any secret official code or password
or any model, article, document or information which-

(a) Relates to or is used in a prohibited place or relates to anything in a prohibited place;

(b) Has been made or obtained in contravention of the provisions of this Act;
(c) Has been entrusted in confidence to him by a person holding an office in the service of
the State; or
(d) Has obtained or to which he has had access owing to his position as a person who holds
or has held office in the service of the State or as a person who holds or has held a
contract made on behalf of the state or a contract the performance of which in whole or in
part is carried out in a prohibited place or as a person who is or has been employed under
a person who holds or has held such an office or contract; and who-
(e) Communicates such code, password, model, article, documents or information to any
person, other than a person to whom he is authorized to communicate it, is liable to

Official Secrets Act 1923, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs (Secretariat, Dhaka: Bangladesh
Government Press)

The primary purpose of the legislation is to protect the secrets of the state, which include matters
related primarily to defense and economic interests. Though the intention of the legislation is
seemingly justifiable in any modern state, the composition of the Official Secrets Act in
Bangladesh super cedes any democratic principles. The Act makes it an offence to communicate
to the media any information no impact on national security or public order. It is tempting for
government departments to use the Official Secrets Act to prevent publication of information
merely because any kind of disclosure could be potentially embarrassing. Mr. Justice K. M.
Subhan supports the thesis that the Official Secrets Act of the press he had found it regrettable
that the press behavior has not been empowered in law or given special privileges in regard, he
draws the conventional line that the right to information is recognized in Western countries and
is considered as a human right in a democratic setting.

4.2 Special Power Act:

Section 16, 17 and 18 of the Act, in the name of prohibition of prejudicial acts, is another agent
which in effect curtails liberty of the press. This cersion of the Special Powers Act was passed on
9th February, 1974 (Act No. of XIV of 1974). Act XVIII of 1991 has modified this Act up to the
26th February, 1991. The above sections of this Act provide that media personnel responsible in
the view of the authorities for prejudicial reports shall be punishable with possible imprisonment
for five years. These statutes further provide that the government shall have the power to prohibit
publication of newspapers or periodicals containing prejudicial reports (any report, true or false,
of a prejudicial act). The Act further allows the government to impose pre-censorship on any
publication. Government has the power to pre-censor or prohibit any publication and place the
editor or the publisher of the publication in jail. Even reports that are true, should they offend the
ruling authorities are subject to these provisions? The Special Powers Act is a very repressive
law. Bhuiyan and Guarantee argue that Section 16 (prohibition of prejudicial acts, etc), Sec. 17
(proscription of certain documents) and Sec. 18 (regulation of publication of certain matters) of
the Act enables the government to harass journalists and close down newspapers, thereby
curtailing severely the liberty of the press. They hold the view that application of these
provisions in peaceful times violates the provisions of the national constitution, which guarantees
fundamental rights. The act also empowered the government to detain without trial, to pre-censor
or prohibit publications, and to jail editors or publishers for prejudicial reports, whether true or
false. Such offences were also non-bail able. So how widely are these laws enacted? On
October 1, 1998, Interior (Home) Minister Major Rafiqul Islam informed the Bangladesh
National Assembly that some 692 people have been arrested under the Special Powers Act, 1974
and confined to different jails in various parts of the country. He noted that constitutional
limitations on the right to liberty had been supplemented by specific legislation namely the
Special Powers Act 1974, which provided for preventive detention.

4.3 Printing Presses and Publications Act:

The introduction of licensing system for the newspapers in the subcontinent dates back to British
colonial rule as do most other acts dealing with various aspects of freedom and democracy or
lack thereof. It was John Adam; the acting governor general of India who introduced the system
in March 1823. Adam intended that no one should publish a newspaper or a periodical without
having obtained a license from the Governor-General-in- Rammohan Roy, filed a petition in the
Supreme Court in an attempt to block Adams initiative. But the court rejected the appeal in
April 1823, saying: India was not an independent country, so the laws and rules consistent with
an independent state cannot be applicable in India. As a result, the Adams regulation, known in
the history of sub continental journalism as Adams Gag, became law. Moving into more modern
times, we see that the Printing Presses and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act, 1973
(Act No. XXIII of 1973) was passed to provide for the legality of keeping of printing presses,
and the printing and publication of newspapers and for registration of books. The 1973 law has
vested the authority of issuing the license, or if need be the canceling the license as well. The
legislation empowers the District Magistrates in Section 20of the act to cancel the authentication
of the declaration and under section 20A, the Government may declare certain publications
forfeited and to issue search warrants to enforce such activity. This act was a crude and to issue
search warrants to enforce such activity. This Act was a crude imitation of an ordinance
promulgated by the head of the Council, signed by the Chief Secretary.

Six Indians, including Dwarka Nath Thakur and erstwhile military rules of Pakistan, General
Ayub Khan. The government of Sheikh Mujiobur Rahman scrapped Ayubs law but retained the
old licensing system for printers, publishers and editors of any book, newspaper or irregular
sheets as a decade. Ullah recorded that parliament debated the Printing Presses and Publications
Bill on 19 September 1973 and passed the bill in the same day on a voice vote acceptance of a

minor amendment from the Treasure Bench and rejecting Opposition demands to solicit public
opinion.13 Although the ruling party the Awami League was committed to scrapping the old
press law the new one was in essence a duplication of the old and it had Ayub Khans imprint all
oer it. Using the provisions of the Presses and Publications Ordinance 1973, the government
closed down the weeklies Mukhapatra, Spokesman, Lalpataka, Haq Katha, Charampatra, Desh
Bangle, Swadhikar, Swadhinata and Nayajug. Distressed by this action, an independent Member
of Parliament, Abdullah Sarker said: It is nothing but another black law. The Journalists will not
be able to express their independent opinion. There will be only a blue print filled in with the
praises for the government. The aim of the present Presses and Publications Bill will be to
publish news directly by the Government.

4.4 Penal Code

The Penal Code of 1860 (Act No. XLV of 1860) prescribes punishment for offences committed

within and beyond Bangladesh, which endanger the national security, the public peace and the
public morale. Offences under Section 123A and 124A are now being tried sections of the Penal
Code deal with offences endangering the security of the state. Section 153A and 153B of the
Penal Code provide that expressions promoting enmity between classes or inciting students to
take part in violent political activity call for penal action. Section 295A of the Penal Code
provides punishment for expressions which hurt religious feelings of the citizens of Bangladesh.
Section 171G provides punishment for furnishing false statements in connection with an
election. Sections 292 and 293 prescribe punishment for obscene exclusively by the Special
Tribunal under the Special Power Act of 1974. These two publications, similarly Sections 499
and 501 deal with the offences of defamation and libel. Furthermore, the punishment prescribed
for this type of offence has been made more severe by requiring a sentence of two years to seven
years.14 By amending Section 505 and by introducing Section 505A the Penal Code has the
following provisions.:

505A. Prejudicial act by words etc. Whoever (a) by words either spoken or written, or by signs
or by visible representations or otherwise does anything, or (b) makes, publishes or circulates
any statement, rumor or report, which is likely to be prejudicial to the interests of the security of

Mohit Moitra, A History of India Journalism (Calcutta: National Book Agency, 1993), page-32
Penal Code 1860

Bangladesh or public order or to the Maintenance of friendly relation of Bangladesh with foreign
states or to maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community, shall be punished
with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

4.5 Code of Criminal Procedure

The Code of Criminal procedure, 1898 (Act No V of 1898) was introduced to define acceptable
and workable procedures relating to the investigation and eventual trial for criminal offences.
The government has amended the Section 99A of the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as
99B, 99D and Schedule II of the Code Criminal Procedure (Third Amendment) Ordinance,

4.6 Newspapers (Annulment of Declaration) Ordinance

4.6.1 Annulment of Declaration of Certain Newspapers

Notwithstanding anything contained in the Printing Press and Publications (Declaration and
Registration) Act, 1973 (XXIII of 1973) hereinafter referred to as the said Act, or any other law
for time being in force- (a) the declaration made and subscribed the said Act in respect of any
newspaper, except the newspapers mentioned in the Schedule, shall, upon the commencement of
this ordinance, stand annulled; and (b) after the commencement of this Ordinance, no declaration
under the said Act for the printing and publication of any newspaper shall be made and
subscribed except by or on behalf of the Government or with the permission of the which may be
granted to such conditions as it may deem necessary in the public interest impose.

4.6.2 Cancellation of Declaration for Breach of Conditions

Where a declaration in respect of a newspaper has been made with permission under section
2(b), the Government may, by order, cancel the declaration for the breach of, or failure to
comply with, any condition subject to which the permission was granted.

4.7 Marital Law Orders

President and Chief Martial Law Administrator system put press under a tough martial law
regime known as Section (15) of the Martial Law (Seventh Amendment0 Regulations, 1976 it
states -

Code of Criminal Procedure 1898

4.7.1 Penalty for Criticizing Martial Law
Whoever by word, either spoken or written or by sings or visible representation or otherwise
criticizes the imposition, operation or continuance of Martial Law or brings of attempts to bring
into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Chief Martial
Law Administrator or any other Martial Law authority shall be punishable with rigorous
imprisonment for a term which may extent to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Whoever by word, either spoken or written or by sings or visible representation or otherwise

criticizes the imposition, operation or continuance of Martial Law or brings of attempts to bring
into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Chief Martial
Law Administrator or any Zonal Martial Law Administrator or any other Martial Law Authority
shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extent to seven years, and
shall also be liable to fine.16

Martial Law Regulations (Seventh Amendment), Regulation No. 1, Bangladesh Gazette, Ministry of Law, Justice
& Parliamentary Affairs (Secretariat, Dhaka: Bangladesh Government Press, 1976)

Chapter V
Publications, Publishers and the New Media
5.1 Publication

Determining the meaning of publication for the purposes of the law on contempt is
complicated by the fact that the word has two meanings. First, it can refer to publication in the
physical sense, that is, the form in which it presents itself. Section 2(1) of the 1981 Act deals
with this meaning in explaining that publication includes four terms: any speech, writing,
programme included in a cable programme service or other communication in whatever form.

We examine those terms below. Lord Diplock in Secretary of State for Defence v Guardian
Newspapers Ltd8 held that Parliament intended the definition in terms of the four mentioned
expressions to be complete and comprehensive,9 despite the fact that the word includes
would suggest that other terms beyond those four are not excluded if a case can be made for
including them.17

Secondly, publication can also mean the act of publication. This meaning is dealt with under
section 1 of the 1981 Act, which explains that the strict liability rule arises in respect of
conduct that is treated as contempt of court. Section 2(1) states that the relevant conduct is that
of publication. One difficulty here is that what that act of publication (the conduct) involves is
not explained under the Act.18 The only explanation we have is in relation to the physical form of
the publication, discussed above. This is problematic when considering the question of who can
be liable for a publication, because it is not clear who or what must have undertaken the act of
publication (or part of that act) in order to attract liability. We consider this issue in detail
below,19whilst this section of the chapter concentrates on publication in its physical form.

For reasons which we shall explain, we do not think there is any difficulty about including
internet communications as publications under the definition in section 2(1) or that there is any

Dilworth v Commissioner of Stamps [1899] AC 99, 105 to 106
Compare s 1(3) of the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
See paras 3.30 and following below.

prospect that a court would refuse to do so. Having said that, as will become apparent, there is
limited authority in the context of contempt by publication on the definition of these four terms.

5.1.1 Speech
The term speech appears to be largely self-explanatory. At common law, a theatrical
performance can be a publication for the purposes of contempt.20 By way of comparison with
contempt, the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 defines speech to include lecture, address and
sermon. There seems to be no difficulty in understanding speech to include, for example,
spoken words that have been filmed and posted on YouTube.

5.1.2 Writing
The term writing plainly covers a handwritten or typed message or a newspaper article.
According to the Interpretation Act 1978, writing includes typing, printing, lithography,
photography and other modes of representing or reproducing words in a visible form, and
expressions referring to writing are construed accordingly. In the context of the offence of
incitement to racial hatred, written material includes any sign or other visible
representation.21 This has been examined by the courts recently. In Sheppard,22 the offending
material was hosted on a web server in California, but was accessible in England and Wales. The
Court of Appeal rejected an argument that the written material had to be in visible,
comprehensible form with some degree of permanence.23 Lord Justice Scott Baker approved the
view of the trial judge that what was on the computer screen was first of all in writing or was
written and secondly that the electronically stored data which is transmitted also comes within
the definition of written material because it is written material stored in another form.

Although the 1981 Act has no provision defining writing in terms of any sign or other visible
representation, it appears likely that the wide approach in Sheppard would be adopted in the
contempt context should the issue arise.

Williams (1823) 2 Law Journal Reports, Kings Bench Old Series 30.
Public Order Act 1986, s 19 read with s 29.
[2010] EWCA Crim 65, [2010] 1 WLR 2779.
[2010] EWCA Crim 65, [2010] 1 WLR 2779 at [29]. See also M Dyson, Public Order on the Internet (2010) 2
Archbold Review 6 to 9.

5.1.3 Programme included in a programme service
The term programme included in a programme service is not self-explanatory. According to
the Broadcasting Act 1990, a programme is expansively defined and includes an
advertisement and, in relation to any service, includes any item included in that service. The
definition of a programme service is in part made up of the incorporated definition of
programme service from the Communications Act 2003 which covers television, teletext, radio
and so on.24
The Broadcasting Act also provides that a programme service is:
Any other service which consists in the sending, by means of an electronic
communications network (within the meaning of the Communications Act 2003), of
sounds or visual images or both either
(i) for reception at two or more places in the United Kingdom (whether they are so sent
for simultaneous reception or at different times in response to requests made by different
users of the service); or
(ii) for reception at a place in the United Kingdom for the purpose of being presented
there to members of the public or to any group of persons.25

For these purposes, an electronic communications network means a transmission system for
the conveyance by the use of electrical, magnetic or electro-magnetic energy, or signals of any
description.26 This would include networks used for radio and television, as well as
As Collins notes, there can be no doubt that internet communications are conveyed by the use of
electrical, magnetic, or electro-magnetic energy, and are thus transmitted by electronic
communications networks within the meaning of this definition and for the purposes of the
Broadcasting Act 1990.

For contempt, a television broadcast or radio show is clearly covered by these definitions.
Whether a particular internet service comprises a programme service will depend on the other

Communications Act 2003, s 405(1). A programme service is (a) a television programme service; (b) the public
teletext service; (c) an additional television service; (d) a digital additional television service; (e) a radio programme
service; or (f) a sound service provided by the BBC.
Broadcasting Act 1990, s 201(1)(c).
Communications Act 2003, s 32.

components of the definition. So, for example, the BBCs iPlayer would comprise a programme
service because it provides sounds and visual images in response to requests taking place at
different times from different users.

5.1.4 Communication in whatever form

The ordinary meaning of communication is very wide indeed, all the more so when one adds
the words in whatever form. In contempt at common law, a wax model could be a publication,
suggesting a similar breadth.27 The new media exist to facilitate the intentions and desires of
people to communicate in various forms, to update, educate, cement a friendship, argue, insult,
edify, share experiences, insights and opinions and so on. While the media are new, the purposes
of communication are familiar.

The term communication features heavily in the different statutory context of the Regulation
of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. There, communication can include anything comprising
speech, music, sounds, visual images or data of any description and signals serving either for
the impartation of anything between persons, between a person and a thing or between things or
for the actuation or control of any apparatus. The breadth of the term is marked especially by
the words the impartation of anything between persons. Beyond that, it also applies to
communications between things. An automated news feed appears to be an example.28 Plainly
this definition from the 2000 Act is not directly applicable to contempt, but it shows a context in
which the statutory understanding of communication is as wide as the ordinary meaning of the

The term communication in whatever form is so wide that it seems on its own to cover
comprehensively or near comprehensively the new media. A random (though of course non-
exhaustive) list of the new media seems always to reveal a communication in some form. A
Facebook posting, a tweet, a Flickr photograph (with or without comments), a video on
YouTube, Delicious28 or Digg29 or words on a website are all likely to be publications by virtue
of being communications in whatever form and usually writing and sometimes speech as well.

Gilham (1828) 1 Moody and Malkin 165.
28 (last visited 1 Aug. 2014).

In what is thought to be the first (and thus far only) internet contempt by publication case in
England, it was not disputed that a photograph online was a publication.29

Parliament plainly intended the definition of publication to be as wide as the analysis above
In conclusion, there appears to be nothing in the nature of the novel means of communication
used by the new media that necessitates new tailor-made legislation as they seem to be covered
comfortably by the concept of publication in section 2(1) of the 1981 Act. Do consultees agree
with our conclusion that the definition of publication in section 2(1) of the 1981 Act is broad
enough to cover things appearing in the new media? If not, why not?

5.2 Addressed to the Public at Large or Any Section of the Public

A publication must be addressed to the public at large or any section of it. This clearly covers
national and local newspapers and broadcasters.

There appears to be no definitive rule or standard that can determine whether a publication is
addressed to the public or a section of it. Rather, the matter falls to be decided on a case-by-case
basis. Likely relevant factors when making such assessment include the size of the group, the
nature and function of the group, the means of control over access to the group or the specific
publication and the context in which the publication was made. The essential contrast is with
private communications.30

The number of recipients is significant. It would be unlikely that a section of the public could be
made up of just one person, since the phrase addressed to any section of the public implies
an intention to communicate to more than a single individual. Arlidge, Eady and Smith argues
that such a limited publication would not fall within the wording of the section.31

A-G v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2011] EWHC 418 (Admin), [2011] 1 WLR 2097 at [21].
See also HM Advocate v Caledonian Newspapers Ltd 1995 SLT 926.
Which might still be caught by the common law of intentional contempt. See Ch 2 at para 2.56.
Arlidge, Eady and Smith on Contempt para 4-38. Contrast, however, the decision in GS [2012] EWCA Crim 398,
[2012] 2 Cr App R 14.

This issue has arisen in the related context of the Public Order Act 1986. In Sheppard, the
question arose whether there was publication to the public or a section of the public when
material was made generally accessible via the web.

The court held that the judge had been correct in holding that it was sufficient that the material
was generally accessible to all, or available to, or was placed before, or offered to the public.
The material in the instant case was available to the public despite the fact that the evidence
went no further than establishing that one police officer had downloaded it.

This is consistent with the position that could arise in relation to contempt. We agree with
Arlidge, Eady and Smith that a publication addressed to one person cannot be deemed to be
addressed to a section of the public. For example, an email sent from one person to one other
person is not addressed to a section of the public. The material in Sheppard was available to the
public at large anyone in the world could have accessed it had they visited the website it just
so happened that only one person did access it (or at least, there was only proof of one such
access by a police officer).

Considerations of whether the use of an internet service constitutes publication to the public or a
section of it will vary significantly both between the various services and depending on how a
service is used. Email, for example, would generally seem analogous to private
correspondence.33 Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter,38 usually have privacy
settings that enable a user to restrict access to their publications, but users may fail to utilize
We consider that the law in this area should be left to develop on a case-by-case basis since there
are no hard and fast rules about what can amount to a section of the public and, in practice, this
issue appears thus far to have generated limited litigation. Do consultees consider that the lack of
a statutory definition of a section of the public is creating problems in practice? If so, can they
provide examples?

[2010] EWCA Crim 65, [2010] 1 WLR 2779 at [34].
Frank Thayer, Legal control of the Press published by The Foundation of press. Inc. Book lyn, 1st edition, 1956

5.3 Who Is Responsible for a Publication?
The 1981 Act focuses attention on whether there is a publication, rather than who is a publisher.
The term publisher is not defined in the 1981 Act. The closest the Act comes to a definition of
publisher is the statement that publish is to be construed in accordance with the meaning
given to publication in section 2(1) of the Act.

There are many ways in which a person can be involved with a publication: it can be authored,
edited, drafted, solicited, censored, approved, modified, transmitted, and retransmitted and so on.
It will normally be transmitted and communicated by complex means which themselves need to
be created, managed and maintained. This raises interesting questions about whether any
intermediary or anyone with any involvement, however technical, is considered the publisher of
a communication for the purposes of contempt of court.

These questions have taken on an enhanced significance in the light of recent technological
developments. The internet enables information to be communicated across the globe. This can
be by e-mail from one sender to one or more recipients. The sender makes a connection to their
own internet access provider (IAP), and sends their message through their email client/Mail User
Agent (MUA). The MUA will transfer the email to a Mail Delivery Agent, which is forwarded to
a Mail Transfer Agent, and then routed to the receiving MTA. The MTA on the destination
server then passes the email to the MDA for delivery to the users mailbox. The recipient will
connect to his MUA utilising his access provider, and read the mail.34Information might also be
communicated by one person to others by posting material on web pages on the web. An
individuals online blog is an example of such a web page. Some service providers, such as
Facebook and Twitter, facilitate this interaction between individuals and numerous others.
Individuals who create their own websites may engage numerous service providers: they will
send content through their IAP; they will register a domain name through a domain name
registrar; and they may use a hosting provider to host the information on servers based abroad.

The manner of communication via modern media, including email and social networking sites, is
different from the traditional print media that would have involved a journalist writing copy for a

See (last visited on 11 Aug 2014).

newspaper that is printed in hard copy by the corporate body and distributed by that body and
other wholesalers and retailers to the readers of the alleged contempt. One of the most important
differences is that there is much greater likelihood of the 1981 Act applying in relation to
communications by individual citizens. Not only are professional journalists potential publishers
for the purposes of the 1981 Act, but so is any citizen who writes a blog or posts emails or tweets
to a section of the public.35 A further difference of significance is that a web-based publication is
likely to be more readily available to a section of the public for a far longer period than a
printed copy would be.

The implications for the law of contempt by publication are obvious. For example, if a user
creates a web page which appears on the web revealing seriously prejudicial information about a
trial, the section 2 contempt might apply. A non exhaustive list of those engaged in the
publication process might include:
(1) The author or user who generated the words;36
(2) The provider of internet access services, which enable users to transmit or push
content to others, either on a bilateral or multilateral basis (Internet Access Providers);
(3) The providers of hosting or platform services, which store content on behalf of users
and enable them to make content accessible to others, such as social networking sites like
Facebook and Tumblr (Internet Platform Providers);
(4) Domain name registrars and registries;
(5) Providers that enable users to locate the content made available by others, for
example, search engines such as Google.

These service providers are commonly referred to as internet or online intermediaries because
of their role as facilitators of internet-based activities. However, some of these categories are not
mutually exclusive and the same individual or entity may perform more than one function.
In some other contexts, Parliament has given the term publisher specific definition.37 For
example, under section 1(3)(e) of the Defamation Act 1996, a person is not a publisher if he or

Likewise, the 1981 Act of course also applies to police and politicians who make public
In some instances the material may appear in a forum where others can edit the material
Examples include the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010, s 21. Little is gained by
comparing use of the term in other statutory contexts.

she is merely the operator of or provider of access to a communications system by means of
which the statement is transmitted, or made available, by a person over whom he has no effective
control. The 1981 Act by contrast is silent on whether providers, operators or those with
no control over the content of a given publication are to be considered publishers. One
possibility is that all these categories count as publishers under the 1981 Act. Again in the
context of defamation law, this time in the common law rather than under statute, responsibility
for publication has been extended widely, beyond authors, editors and proprietors, to include

It would be possible to interpret publisher under the 1981 Act very broadly so that anyone with
any involvement in the creation or communication of a publication would be a publisher of it.
Following the meaning of publication

examined above, it is clear that to publish means, at least, to speak or write and
communicate. Labelling the author or speaker as the publisher seems uncontroversial.
The internet user, or content generating user, is the author, editor, approver or poster of
the content of a publication. There will normally be little difficulty in classifying users as
publishers. They have engaged in conduct, (writing, speaking, communicating and
suchlike) that forms the central plank of the definition of publication. A person who
places material on a webpage or tweets a message is clearly a publisher of it.39

However, the more difficult question relating to which intermediaries are publishers is not solved
by stating that a publisher is a communicator, writer or speaker. This difficulty is compounded
by the position in relation to the necessary mental element for publication.

The law of contempt requires intention to publish, but this could have one of two meanings. It
could be limited to, for example, mere intention to send or upload the material, regardless of
what that material is. Or, the meaning could be broader than this, requiring intention to publish
that particular material, with knowledge of the content of the publication.

M Collins, The Law of Defamation and the Internet (3rd ed 2010) para 6.01.
In A-G v Pelling [2005] EWHC 414 (Admin), [2005] Family Law Reports 854 the defendant was held guilty of
contempt in relation to material he had published in an online journal.

The case of Mcleod is the primary authority for considering the necessary intention but is not
particularly helpful in this regard. First, it dealt with the common law contempt of scandalising
the court, rather than contempt by publication that we consider here and in Chapter 2. Secondly,
in that case, whether knowledge of the contents of the publication was necessary appeared to
depend on whether there was a duty on a person to make himself or herself aware of the
contents. This seemed to relate to whether he or she was professionally involved in the
production of material (for example as a printer) or whether they were a layman who, as in that
case, merely handed over a copy of a document which, it turned out, contained material which
was said to scandalize the court. Whilst it may be unsatisfactory to define the mental element for
contempt by reference to the professional status of the publisher, in practice, it is not clear
whether this would absolve the intermediaries of liability on the basis of their lack of knowledge
of the contents of the publication, and in other contexts,intending to offer services allowing
publication is clearly enough.

If such intermediaries were deemed to have the necessary intention to publish, despite not
knowing the content of the publication, they may, nonetheless, be able to avail themselves of
certain defences.

The first defence that might apply would be that in section 3(1) of the 1981 Act. Under that
section no one will ultimately be liable as the publisher of any matter to which the strict liability
rule applies if at the time of the publication (having taken all reasonable care) he does not know
and has no reason to suspect that relevant proceedings are active. There is normally no reason to
suppose that most internet intermediaries would be aware that proceedings were active in
relation to the case to which the material related.

Further specific defences would be available under the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive)
Regulation 2002 (regulations 17 to 19) which implements articles 12 to 14 of the Directive on

Electronic Commerce.40 These provide an additional defence against all liability to certain
activities conducted by certain intermediaries. There is, however, an acknowledged degree of
regulatory uncertainty41 about which intermediaries the defences relate to (particularly with
new services such as hyperlinking sites). The European Commission is in the process of
evaluating submissions from a public consultation on procedures for notifying and acting on
illegal content hosted by online intermediaries.

The first EC defence applies to those acting as mere conduits. In simple terms, mere conduits
are the intermediate carriers of information sent between computers through electronic
communications networks. Regulation 17 provides that a service provider shall not be liable for
damages or for any other pecuniary remedy or for any criminal sanction as a result of a
transmission, provided that the service provider:
(a) did not initiate the transmission;
(b) did not select the receiver of the transmission; and
(c) did not select or modify the information contained in the transmission.
Some of the activity of intermediaries would qualify for the separate EC defence applying to
caching. Caching is a process that different providers adopt in order to allow the internet to
work more efficiently. Under Regulation 18, the act of caching is a defence to liability where
the relevant information is the subject of automatic, intermediate and temporary storage.
Caching is different from providing a mere conduit service, because the act of caching means
the content is stored for a period that is longer than is reasonably necessary for the
transmission. However, the storage must be for the sole purpose of making more efficient
onward transmission of the information to other recipients of the service upon their request. The
defence is lost if there is a failure to act, expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the
information [where the intermediary has] actual knowledge of the fact that the information at the
initial source of the transmission has been removed from the network, or access to it has been
disabled, or that the court or an administrative authority has ordered such removal or

40 Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 Jun 2000 on certain legal aspects of information
society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market Directive on Electronic Commerce, Official Journal
L 178 of 17.07.2000 p 1.
41 communication_2012_en.htm (last visited Aug 15 2014).

A third EC defence, under Regulation 19, would be available if the functions of the intermediary
amounted to hosting. This constitutes storing information provided by the recipient of the
service, other than under the conditions specified in respect of mere conduit or caching. As
Collins explains intermediaries who cache content are at least one step removed from
intermediaries who host content42 because they are not the primary storage site for that
information. Regulation 19 provides the defence, but only where the provider does not have
actual knowledge of the unlawful activity or information, or is not aware of the circumstances
from which such unlawfulness should have been apparent.

Although not a publisher, it might be argued that the intermediary should be regarded as a
distributor. Section 3(1) provides a publisher with a defence only on the basis of a lack of
knowledge or suspicion as to the status of proceedings being active; it does not create any
defence for a publisher on the basis of a lack of knowledge or suspicion about the contents of the
publication if proceedings are active. The position is different for distributors. Under section
3(2) a distributor is not guilty under the strict liability rule if at the time of distribution
(having taken all reasonable care) he does not know that it contains such matter and has no
reason to suspect that it is likely to do so. Again, that would provide a defence to liability under
section 2 of the 1981 Act for the intermediary which constituted a distributor.

A distributor may also qualify for the additional defences within the EC Regulations depending
on the activity in question as described above.

In summary, internet intermediaries might avoid liability for contempt as publishers because of
one or more of the following factors. First, they may lack the necessary knowledge or awareness
in relation to either the content itself and/ or the activeness of the proceedings. Second, the
intermediary may fall within one or more of the EC Directive defences. There is some overlap
between the lack of knowledge defence in section 3(2) and the Directive defences.

M Collins, The Law of Defamation and the Internet, 3rd edition 2010, para 17.55.

5.4 The Time of the Publication

5.4.1 Present law

Section 2(3) of the 1981 Act provides that the strict liability rule applies to a publication only if
the proceedings in question are active within the meaning of this section at the time of the
publication.43 The expression is susceptible to two interpretations with very different
(1) Publication is a continuing event that begins with the first appearance of the material.
Liability under section 2 might, therefore, arise if proceedings become active during the
period of continuing publication, although they were not active when publication
commenced. Under this interpretation, publication might be held to take place either (a)
whenever someone accesses the material available or (b) whenever the material is
available; or
(2) No liability can arise if there are no proceedings active at the time of publication,
irrespective of whether proceedings become active at some later time and irrespective of
whether the publisher is aware of that change of circumstance.

The interpretation of the time of publication under section 2 matters a great deal for what we
assume will be a commonly occurring problem. Consider the case where P publishes a detailed
online account of a crime and the offender. There are no active proceedings at that time. The
material remains available online and would be revealed by use of search engines such as
Google. New proceedings subsequently become active against a defendant for that crime, and the
nature of the material is such that it poses a substantial risk of serious prejudice or impediment.
Is P liable for contempt of court under section 2?

There is no doubt that the new media have rendered such cases more likely to occur. The
astonishing capacity for storing information digitally and the ease of access to such information
via any internet-enabled device anywhere in the world renders the position unrecognizable from
1981. Then, a library or newspaper archive could only store a limited number of publications and
retrieval of the information was often limited to those able physically to attend the premises at
which the information was stored.

43 We examine the meaning of active proceedings in Ch 2 at para 2.9 and following (emphasis added).

Analyzing the problems that arise if a publication is held to be a continuing act, we might say
that Ps original conduct (publishing the publication before active proceedings commenced) was
not prohibited. The relevant circumstances (the commencement of active proceedings)
subsequently arose without any further conduct on Ps part and that was a matter over which P
had no control. The change of circumstances generated the proscribed consequences (substantial
risk of serious prejudice), again without any new further contribution from P.

Holding P liable for the proscribed consequences in such a case seems to be an unusual basis on
which to impose liability. It might also be said to strain the language of section 2 and reference
to at the time of publication. Nevertheless, the limited case law to date favors the broad
interpretation that publication is a continuing event.
In the Scottish case of HM Advocate v Beggs (No 2) it was held that the expression at the time
of publication in section 2 was capable of referring to a period of time during which the
material was accessible on the web site, commencing with the moment when it first appeared and
ending when it was withdrawn. Lord Osbornes view was followed in England by Mr Justice
Fulford at first instance in Harwood.44 Similarly, in the Australian case of Digital News Media
Pty Ltd v Mokbel it was held that, for the purpose of contempt of court, the material is published
at every time and place that it is available to a juror or potential juror. The decisions in Harwood
and Mokbel rely heavily on Beggs.

One of the key factors that led the court in Beggs to decide as it did was an argument by analogy
with book publishing. Lord Osborne held that: It appears to me unrealistic to make a distinction
between the moment when the material is first published on the web site and the succeeding
period of time when it is available for access on demand by members of the public. It appears to
me that the better view is that the situation affecting the web site may be compared with a
situation in which a book or other printed material is continuously on sale and available to the
public. During that whole period, I consider that it would be proper to conclude that the material
was being published.

20072012.pdf (last visited 1 July 2014)

It is, however, arguable that this is not a precise analogy and that the conclusion on the
interpretation of section 2 is weakened as a result. The printed book will usually have a
publication date and that marks the point, usually the year, when it was published, whether or not
it is still in print or available. The Act focuses on whether the act of publication occurred, not
whether the act of publishing occurred or is occurring.
A further concern with placing too much emphasis on Beggs, is that the decision was made at a
time before the internet had acquired the omnipresence it now has. 3.59 The broad interpretation
favoured in Beggs has the practical advantage that the Act is capable of meeting this new
challenge. This is made clear in Harwood, where Mr Justice Fulford rejected the appropriateness
of drawing a distinction between current and archived online reports or of restricting the
words time of the publication in section 2(3) to the former. His Lordship emphasised that
anyone looking for contemporary reports of active proceedings will use search terms that are
likely to reveal a mix of contemporary and earlier information: A juror seeking contemporary
information could easily have ended up viewing the reports that included references to the earlier
allegations, without necessarily having set out to defy the courts direction not to conduct

While that is certainly true, it is important to keep in mind that the focus of the present inquiry is
about the culpability of the publisher. There is obviously a risk that an errant juror could access
material published before and/or after proceedings became active, but of itself, that does not
provide clarification concerning the relative culpability of the publisher in these two different

In Beggs, reliance was also placed on the analogy with some defamation cases. In Godfrey v
Demon Internet Ltd it was held that an intermediary which continued to store a defamatory
posting on its news server, after having been asked by the claimant to remove it, was responsible
for the publication which occurred when that posting was later accessed. Again, these are
important factors, but there are several reasons to suggest that the defamation cases do not
provide conclusive support for the broad continuing act interpretation in the contempt context.
First, the issues in the cases are very different, since contempt concerns quasi-criminal rather

than civil liability. Secondly, there are more recent defamation cases in which a contrary
interpretation has been taken. Thirdly, reliance on the defamation cases appears weaker still in
light of the proposed reform in the Defamation Bill which adopts the opposite interpretation: that
publication is a single finite event for the purposes of limitation.45 Fourthly, liability in a
defamation context is not triggered by a change of circumstances, unlike in relation to contempt
where proceedings may become active without the publisher knowing that this has occurred.
This may give rise to concerns that adopting the continuing act concept from Beggs could require
publishers to monitor continuously their archives in order to ensure that proceedings have not
become active since the original date of publication. Were this to be the consequence of Beggs, it
would impose an obligation on certain intermediaries which would seem to conflict with article
15(1) of the Electronic Commerce Directive. For some publishers, this could be an expensive
and time-consuming endeavour and may not be a proportionate restriction on their article 10
rights. Fifthly, the policy reasons influencing the interpretations of the term publication in
defamation and contempt are also different.

In summary, it appears that although Beggs is a decision that has been followed at first instance,
on close analysis we cannot be confident that it would be followed by an appellate court in
England and Wales. That is clearly a concern. We anticipate that there will be a growth in cases
in which prejudicial material is available online having been published before proceedings are
active. The courts need an effective mechanism for minimising the risk that such material will
prejudice jurors. Publishers and others need to have confidence that they know what their
obligations are in relation to archived material.

45Draft Defamation Bill, cl 6. See Ministry of Justice, Draft Defamation Bill Consultation

Chapter VI
Contempt in the Face of the Court
6.1 Present Law

6.1.1 Contempt in the Face of the Court

Contempt in the face of the court concerns some form of misconduct in the course of
proceedings, either within the court itself or, at least, directly connected with what is happening
in court.46

6.1.2 The Prescribed Conduct

The case law does not contain any comprehensive list of all forms of conduct which may amount
to contempt in the face of the court, but in essence it is conduct that denotes willful defiance of,
or disrespect towards, the court or that willfully challenges or affronts the authority of the court
or the supremacy of the law itself.47

The conduct must be a voluntary act. Examples of conduct amounting to contempt in the face of
the court include: assault on anyone in open court; insulting the judge in court; throwing a
missile at the judge;48 throwing a dead rat at the court clerk; directing insults at the jury;
distributing leaflets in the public gallery; insults or threats to any officer or official of the court;
wearing offensive clothing; not wearing any clothing at all; refusing to answer a question when
ordered to do so; refusing to stand where directed; and disruptive behaviour. Disruptive
behaviour could include calling out or applauding in the public gallery, conducting a protest in
court, lying down in the courtroom, and creating a disturbance in adjacent parts of the building
such that the court proceedings are disturbed.

Failure to comply with an order from the judge or bench designed to control conduct in court
may amount to contempt in the face of the court because, as the Court of Appeal has stated:
It is axiomatic that any judge in any court, not least a Crown Court, has to act appropriately to
control proceedings to see that they do not get out of order.

46Balogh v St Albans Crown Court [1975] QB 73, 84 by Lord Denning.

47 Re de Court, The Times 27 Nov 1997, (1998) 17 Civil Justice Quarterly 183, 183 to 184.
48 Balogh v St Albans Crown Court [1975] QB 73, 84.

The notion of what counts as being in the face of the court has, for the Crown Court, been
construed broadly, so that contempts not witnessed by the judge are treated as being
constructively within the sight and hearing of the court itself. This is so, it appears, even where
the contempt in the face of the court consists in not appearing at court.

6.1.3 Administration of Justice

Conduct which threatens or interferes with the course of justice is contempt;16 this includes
conduct which disrupts the proceedings. In a leading case, Lord Justice Salmon explained, the
sole purpose of proceedings for contempt is to give our courts the power effectively to protect
the rights of the public by ensuring that the administration of justice shall not be obstructed or

As Arlidge, Eady and Smith on Contempt states, It is difficult to extract from the authorities the
precise nature of the state of mind required.49 There is no definitive statement in the case law
and what judicial statements there are have been made in the context of what was undoubtedly a
contempt, but not so clearly a contempt in the face of the court.

While it is clear that the conduct itself must be intentional, it is not clear whether that is
sufficient to prove the contempt, or whether the contemnor must have intended the consequence,
or foreseen the consequence without necessarily intending it. In many of the cases, an intention
to disrupt the proceedings or to show disrespect can easily be inferred from the act itself, or at
least is inferred by the court. This may be an explanation for the statement in Huggins that an
intention to disrupt proceedings was not necessary for conduct to be a contempt which is
otherwise not consistent with other authorities.50

6.1.4 Other than by Contempt Proceedings

The courts response to an apparent contempt will depend on the circumstances. A minor
disruption can, of course, be ignored. If it cannot be ignored, the court may simply accept an
apology from the person and take no further action.

49 Arlidge, Eady and Smith on Contempt of court, published by Oniron Press Limited, page no. 10-214.
50 Huggins [2007] EWCA Crim 732 at [14], [2007] Criminal Law Review 798

Judges may warn a person not to continue with the abusive or disruptive behaviour. A person
disrupting the proceedings may be removed from the court, even if that person is the accused,
and in extreme cases the trial may proceed in his or her absence. Courts are likely to be alert to
attempts to disrupt the proceedings to the benefit of a defendant (or another) by causing it to be

Some kinds of behaviour will amount to criminal offences as well as to a contempt of court. It is
in the discretion of the court as to whether to proceed by way of contempt or to let the
prosecuting authority take over the matter.51

The court in listed factors relevant to the exercise of the discretion. A prosecution might be
swiftly initiated but a separate prosecution will almost always be a more drawn-out way of

If the judge does not deal with the contempt in one of the ways described above, he or she may
refer the matter to the Attorney General for the Attorney to decide whether to apply to the High
Court for an order of committal for contempt of court. The issue of how to deal with the alleged
contempt can be put back until, for example, the end of the trial.

51 Re de Court, The Times 27 Nov 1997, (1998) 17 Civil Justice Quarterly 183, 183 to 184

Chapter VII
Concluding Remarks
7.1 Findings
It is demonstrated in first effort of press in Indian sub-continent was taken in 1767 to expose the
freedom of press of colonial administration; it was failed due to company rulers interference.
Afterward, this continent had to wait another twelve years to come first press in 1780 with strict
government control. Government started to regulate press from the very beginning, which
continued throughout the colonial India that followed the Pakistan regime, and finally in
independent Bangladesh until the restoration of democracy in 1991. However, there were few
brief relieves of press restriction especially during the first one and half year of liberation when
press brought cases of huge government corruption to the public press and media a major issue.
But within shortly such freedom was halted by reintroducing the restrictive laws and regulations.
The main constraint associated with past press was the stringent government rules and
regulations. In addition, access to information, financial constraint and literacy barrier were other
important factors that affected the role of press. Therefore, historically media mostly played role
on social reforms, dissemination of education and knowledge, communal harmony and in
politics. The journey of present vibrant media industry was started with the withdrawing of some
restrictive provisions of press related laws in late 1990 by the then caretaker government. The
subsequent government respected the media freedom considerably and also took the
liberalization and privatization policy in the sector that result into the present boom in the
industry. But our democracy is yet to reach up to the mark. All democratic institutions are facing
tremendous challenges. Everybody has remained press and media a vital governance and
economic problem. In the context, being a fourth estate and watchdog of democracy what role
media playing or what impacts contemporary media creating on public corruption along with
other governance issues has become a vital sphere of debate or discussion.
Thus, the trust of people on media in addressing obligate is significantly lower than the moderate
trust as mentioned by the respondents. Therefore, considering all the existing situation of media
accountability & credibility it is said that this independent variable is significantly responsible
for poor performance of media. In quantitative analysis a mean index for each variable was
calculated in a scale of 1 to 5 (where the more the score, the situation is better) that reveals the
mean index of the dependent variable is 2.775 from journalist point of view and 2.9333 from

general respondent perspective. In both cases, the index is below the neutral, meaning
respondents were rather dissatisfied with medias role. Among independent variables, reporting
incident and freedom of media has the highest and second highest mean index respectively in
both respondent types. Accountability and credibility occupies the third highest mean score in
both cases of respondent. The fourth highest mean index is preserved by the variable reporting
quality according to journalist while this variable according to general respondent occupies the
third highest mean index. Finally, the independent variable access to information holds the
lowest mean index by both respondent types. To know the influence of each independent
variable on the dependent variable, a statistical correlation was performed that reveals that all
independent variables have more or less significant and positive correlation with the dependent
variable except reporting incident from journalist perspective and access to information from
general respondent point of view, which was further crystallized by the regression analysis. The
strong and positive correlations were found in the cases of reporting quality for both categories
of respondents and access to information for only journalist. Correlation among independent
variables also found the interdependency among themselves where the results indicate variables
are interdependent more from journalist point of view.

7.2 Conclusion
The findings of data and their corresponding analysis with regard to the research questions and
objectives delineate that historically media could not play mentionable role in combating
government intension although the first effort of newspaper publication was linked to unearth the
corruption of company ruler. The freedom of media was found as a very restrictive factor that
affected press role. The government controlling of press that started from its very inception
continued all through the Colonial, Pakistan and even in independent Bangladesh until 1990
except few brief respites. Apart from freedom, access to information, financial limitation and
literacy barrier affected media considerably. Thereby, at past times, press was mainly devoted to
social reform, spreading education and knowledge, communal harmony and in politics which
especially started since 1850s. About contemporary media (1991 and onwards), it was evident
from the empirical data that media make a good number of reports on public sector corruption,
which have both tangible and intangible impacts. However, the respondents were rather
dissatisfied with that impacts and overall role, media currently playing. To investigate the causes

of such dissatisfaction as well to answer the second research questions about the factors affecting
media role, the collected data were analyzed in line with the analytical framework that fixed five
independent variables namely reporting incident, reporting quality freedom of media,
access to information and media accountability & credibility. The summary of findings
explains that all five independent variables are more or less responsible about the drawbacks of
medias role in combating public sector corruption. In quantitative analysis, a significant and
positive correlation was established between all independent variables with the medias role in
combating corruption, except reporting incident from journalist perspective and access to
information from general respondent point of view. Qualitative data also supported these
findings. The reporting quality and access to information (except general respondent view)
have affected strongly the medias role. The rest three independent variables specifically
reporting incident (except journalist point of view), freedom of media, and media
accountability & credibility have also affected medias role significantly. In comparison to
electronic media, overall print medias performances found to be better. Again, general people
perception about medias role in combating corruption is established well than that of journalist.
Thus, all findings and analysis about the impacts as well as the factors affecting medias
performance postulate that the role of media in combating public sector corruption is not as
effective as required to bring significant impact. However, the potential of medias 200 years old
notion as fourth estate and powerful watchdog is universally accepted. Realizing this potential,
all supporting institutions and concern authority should come forward to strengthen this vital
democratic institution so that they can bring success of anti-corruption against the government
for the freedom of press and media campaign. Most importantly, political support of media is of
utmost necessity to check widespread corruption in public sector to handed freedom of press and
media of Bangladesh. To conclude, it is the high time for all governance leaders thought about
medias potential and takes steps to fight pervasive challenge of freedom of press in public