The Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression as per the Indian Constitution – means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely.

  1. The word “freely” means the freedom of a citizen to express his views and opinion in any conceivable means including by words of mouth, writing, printing, banners, signs, and even by way of silence.
  2. The Supreme Court of India has held that the participation in sports in an expression of one’s self and thus it is a form of freedom of speech
  3. The Supreme Court has also held that hoisting the National Flag by citizens is a form of freedom of speech and expression (see Union Of India vs Naveen Jindal & Anr on 23 January, 2004).
  4. Freedom of Press is an inferred right implicit under Article 19(1)(a)
  5. The Right To Information(RTI) emerges as a fundamental right under article 19(1)(a) as freedom of speech and expression are meaningless without access to information
  6. The right to political dissent

Restrictions – Under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India, the State may make a law imposing “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression “in the interest of” the public on the following grounds:

  1. Security of State
  2. Friendly relations with foreign states
  3. Public Order
  4. Decency or morality
  5. Contempt of Court
  6. Defamation
  7. Incitement to an offense Sovereignty and integrity of India

As regards the point on Defamation – there have been a few cases that have been tried – most recently when a group of lawyers filed a defamation suit against Shahrukh Khan (dt 20/8/2007) which was subsequently quashed by the court). The summary of the cases are as under. Defamation cases are not easy to win (extremely tough to be precise) , but still can be used as a potent weapon on those without resources (as in – we have work to do – we cant be maneuvering the courts day in and day out – unless you have resources or you are a politician) – did I just make the statement that politicians have resources and no work to do ? Therefore in my opinion – this particular curtailment is actually against the poor/the common man and aptly suitable for a public interest litigation suit.

  1. G. Narasimhan & Ors v. T. V. Chokkappa, (1972) 2 Supreme Court Cases 680.
  2. Raj Kapoor v. Laxman, (AIR 1980 SC 605).
  3. Sahib Singh Mehra v State of U.P., (1965) 2 SCR 828.
  4. Raj Kapoor & Ors v State (Delhi Administration) & Ors, AIR 1980 SC 258.
  5. Union of India v Prafulla Kumar Samal & Ano, (1979) 3 SCC 4.
  6. Dilawar Balu Kurane v State of Maharashtra, 2002 WLC (SC) (Cri) 182.
  7. Knupffer v London Express Newspaper, ((1944) AC 116).
  8. Asha Parekh & Ors v The State of Bihar, (1977 Cri. L. J. 21).
  9. Mohammad Akram & Ors v Rajiv Mehra & Ors., Criminal Case No. 98/1996.

 

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