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New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking to bar foreigners from holding the position of an editor in Indian newspapers and magazines.

A two-judge bench headed by justice P. Nandrajog said the court cannot make laws, which is the prerogative of the legislature.

“It may be true that citizenship kindles a sense of patriotism and loyalty and thus it may be desirable that a person who is not a citizen of India should not be an editor of publication in India. It may be true that even the legislature has so opined evidenced by the fact that the Press and Registration of Books and Publication Bill, 2011 which has been cleared by the Select Committee and is pending before Parliament has suggested amendment to the Act by defining editor to mean a person who is not only an ordinary resident in India but is also a citizen of India. But it is for the legislature to consider the bill at the floor of the House and not for the Court to legislate," the judgement reads.

The matter arose from a petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy who challenged the editorship of US citizen Siddharth Varadarajan of the The Hindu newspaper on the grounds that he did not hold an Indian passport.

Varadarajan’s subsequent resignation put the immediate issue to rest, but Swamy sought the court’s intervention to settle the matter on a point of law.

In his petition, Swamy claimed the gamut of fundamental rights and their protection extends only to Indian citizens. Given that foreigners do not enjoy such rights, foreign editors can’t be expected to be fearless while performing their editorial duties, he argued. Also, given that editors take crucial decisions which affect the nation, only Indians should hold the position, he said.

Commenting on the ruling, Varadarajan said he had followed the legal parameters set for becoming an editor in India. “My understanding, when I became the editor of The Hindu, was that the law in India was very clear. The only legal requirement for an editor is that he or she be a resident of India, which I am."

“I have been living in India continuously since 1995. This is my home. I have no other home," he said.

Vidhi Choudhary contributed to this story.

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