Freedom to Speech and Expression in India

Introduction

Freedom of speech and expression generally means ‘free to speak’ or free to express. Freedom of speech and expression is that theory of law that allows people both as an individual or in a community to express their views, beliefs, concepts in forms of writing, spoken, visualizing through print media, Internet or publishing in any newspaper or magazine without any fear, restraint, or punishment. The framers of the Indian constitution added freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of Part III. However, this right is subjected to some restrictions under Article 19(2). These restrictions can only be imposed when the state satisfies that such enjoyment of right hampers public peace and tranquillity. Besides that there are some International Standards of freedom of speech provide under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, and Fundamental Freedoms and ASEAN Human Right Declaration.

Freedom of Speech and Expression under Indian Constitution:-

Indian Constitution as the largest constitution of the world comes up with various rights and duties. One such right is Freedom of Speech and Expression which is enshrined in Article 19(1) of the Constitution.

Following are some rights under Freedom of Speech and Expressions which are only available to the citizens of India and any other people-

Freedom of the press-

In the words of Walter Cronkite, “Freedom of press not just important to Democracy, It is democracy”.

‘Press’ is the medium through which information is imparted to different parts of the world. Through the press, one could come to know about what is happening around him and get important information about the political, social, and economical situation of his own country. It works as a stabilizer between the state and individuals.

Right not to Speak or Right to Remain Silence-

The right to remain silent is a legal doctrine that protects an individual’s interest by conferring on him the freedom to remain silent from any questions answers. Right to speech also includes the Right to silence. Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution contains a provision that speaks about the Right of the accused person to remain silent. According to Article 20(3), No person’s access to any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against him.

Freedom of Speech and Expression under International Standards:-

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

According to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone has the right to hold their opinion and free to seek, receive and communicate ideas either orally, in writing, or print through print media or newspapers.

Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms provide freedom of expression subject to certain conditions, restrictions, or penalties as prescribed by law and are necessary for a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity, or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others.

ASEAN Human Rights Declaration adopted a Human Rights Declaration, which proclaims freedom of expression as every person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information, whether orally, in writing, or through any other medium.

Exceptions to freedom of speech and expression:-

Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution provides reasonable restrictions to the Freedom of Speech and Expression.

The grounds of restrictions provided under Article 19(2) are mentioned below-

Sovereignty and Integrity of India, Security of the State, friendly relations with the Foreign States, Public Order, Decency or Morality, contempt of court, defamation, incitement.

Conclusion:-

The right to speak is a natural right that every man posses from his birth. Indian Constitution proclaims various fundamental rights to its citizens. Freedom of Speech and Expression is one of the precious rights which was inserted in the Indian Constitution by the framers of the Indian Constitution. It is the duty of the state to protect the rights of the citizens and failure to do so results in a violation of the Constitution. Democracy can’t stand by itself without providing its followers’ different sets of rights. For that reason, our Constitution incorporated certain fundamental rights which are also subjected to restrictions under certain conditions. There are certain grounds of restrictions that are essential to control human conduct. It is the need of the hour to protect our constitution from harmful indulgences of Politicians. offense

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