Freedom of speech and expression

Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right in many countries. In India, freedom of speech and expression is mentioned under article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution. Bundle of rights comes under the purview of this provision. Recently, the supreme court has adjudicated that right to privacy is a fundamental right and it comes under the purview of freedom of speech and expression. Our constitution gives that much importance to the speech and expression rights of the citizens. Unlike in many countries where there is explicitly mentioning about the freedom of press rights, in our constitution there is no specific provision for that. But that doesn’t means that there is no press rights in our country. That also comes under this provision.


In India,citizens have right to frame opinions pertaining to anything they want to and promulgate by any means. That may be by speaking, writing, gestures, combination of these or by any means. They can criticize the activities of government or any oraganisation if there is something according to them is wrong and need to be improved. This right includes the right to not talk. If at the time of investigation, someone is called by police to say something about they know, they can choose to not say anything unless their lawyer comes. This right gives complete protection to it. No one should be forced to speak against their wishes by anyone even by the public servants.


Press plays an important role in any country. Especially in a democratic country like India,the freedom of press is very important for their smooth functioning. Freedom of broadcasting and circulation also comes in the purview of this section. Many rights can be inferred from this section. Right to information, which became a fundamental right after it is proven that this section will be useless without such a right. The people have right to know about anything they want to know and without any proper and accurate knowledge it is difficult to express their opinion about it.


Even though there are lots of rights which comes under this section, there are some exceptions where some of this rights are not applicable in some cases. For instance,people can’t criticize the court or judges for the decisions they have rendered as a part of their duty. Even there is something which is contrary to the law, the solution is to file a appeal in higher courts. They can’t promulgate anything that hampers the dignity of the Indian courts and judges. If they do it will amount to contempt of court and they will be prosecuted accordingly. They cannot criticize the government to create an aggression among the people,i.e,unnecessary criticism can’t be done if it is having a mala fide intention. But they can criticize with an intention for getting that issue a public attention or inform the government about that disagreement they are having with it with an intention to make the government rectify it. They can’t criticize with an intention to hamper the dignity of any person’s reputation or his property which hampers the value of it with a guilty intention. Even though there is a freedom of press according to this section, it is not absolute too. They can’t report anything which is a sub judice matter and can’t make any comment on the judgment of the court. This right can be even suspended at the time of proclamation of emergency if it is approved by the president.


There is no doubt that this is very important and freedom of speech and expression is something which gives the citizens of a particular country right to cast their views, opinions and protest towards the decisions made by the government. It is the duty of a country to ask for the people’s opinion and their suggestions especially when it is a democratic country. Article 19(1)(a) is a fundamental right which is embodied with several other basic rights. It is very important for the country to give adequate protection for this right.

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