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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- Freedom of Press is an inferred right implicit under Article 19(1)(a)
- 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
- 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:
- Security of State
- Friendly relations with foreign states
- Public Order
- Decency or morality
- Contempt of Court
- 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.
- G. Narasimhan & Ors v. T. V. Chokkappa, (1972) 2 Supreme Court Cases 680.
- Raj Kapoor v. Laxman, (AIR 1980 SC 605).
- Sahib Singh Mehra v State of U.P., (1965) 2 SCR 828.
- Raj Kapoor & Ors v State (Delhi Administration) & Ors, AIR 1980 SC 258.
- Union of India v Prafulla Kumar Samal & Ano, (1979) 3 SCC 4.
- Dilawar Balu Kurane v State of Maharashtra, 2002 WLC (SC) (Cri) 182.
- Knupffer v London Express Newspaper, ((1944) AC 116).
- Asha Parekh & Ors v The State of Bihar, (1977 Cri. L. J. 21).
- Mohammad Akram & Ors v Rajiv Mehra & Ors., Criminal Case No. 98/1996.