It was well said by Cicero, a Roman politician also as a lawyer that “The people’s good is that the highest law”. The manner during which this will be achieved are often inferred from our constitutional provisions, which demonstrate that if an individual raises his/her voice against any evil then everybody will hear the voice and stand against that evil to scrap it out from its root.

Let us have an example of this: compare the past when women weren’t allowed to vote with this day. Now women are allowed to vote. How does this happen? It happens due to the proper of free speech and expression. The right to free speech and expression has that power through which it can break any sort of giant brick that comes in its way.

Other rights that allow or help Indian society develop and progress are supported by freedom of speech and expression which is additionally a fundamental right. Free speech and expression have always been important throughout history because it facilitates many changes, one among which is that the French Revolution.

Free speech and expression not only includes the proper to precise what one thinks but it also includes taking note of others. When an individual expresses his/her opinion, it only carries the intrinsic value of that opinion and being silent thereon opinion is an injustice to the essential human rights.

The right to precise one’s own ideas, thoughts and opinions freely through writing, printing, picture, gestures, spoken words or the other mode is that the essence of freedom of speech and expression. It includes the expression of one’s ideas through visible representations like gestures, signs and other means of the communicable medium. It also includes the proper to propagate one’s views through medium or through the other channel.

This implies that freedom of the press is additionally included during this category. Free propagation of ideas is that the necessary objective and this might be done through the press or the other platform. These two freedoms i.e., freedom of speech and freedom of expression have their own respective qualifications.

According to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the liberty to hunt, receive, and convey information and every one sorts of ideas regardless of boundaries, either orally or within the sort of writing, print, art or through the other media of their choice are included within the right to freedom of speech and expression.

The main elements for the right to freedom of speech and expression are as follows:

  1. This right is available only to a citizen of India and not to the person of other nationalities i.e., foreign nationals.
  2. The freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution includes the right to express oneself through any medium, such as in words of writing, printing, gesture, etc.
  3. This right is not absolute, which means that the government has the right to make laws and to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states, the security of the state, public order, decency, morality, defamation and contempt of court and incitement to an offence.
  4. Such a right ought to be implemented as much by the action of the State as by its inaction. Thus, failure on the a part of the State to ensure the liberty of right and expression to all or any its citizens would also constitute a violation of Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution.

The global Coronavirus pandemic has had a life changing impact on people round the world. Since the virus was first discovered in December 2019, it’s infected many people round the globe.

In times of crisis where there’s a threat to public health on this scale, governments are allowed, and sometimes required, to require more restrictive measures than they might in normal times. However, many governments seem to be using the Coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to further entrench repressive measures, and far overreach the bounds in place under international human rights laws on their powers during such times. Increased surveillance, restrictions on free expression and knowledge, and limits on public participation are getting increasingly common.

During the pandemic, ARTICLE 19 will still challenge threats to freedom of expression round the world. We’ll be monitoring and reporting on government overreach, and urging governments and other actors to make sure human rights, including the proper to free expression, are fully protected in efforts to combat the virus.

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