Mix-ups of Freedom of Press
The right to expression and freedom of speech is very essential in a democratic nation. Intellectuals have backed it for a long time as a gateway to other liberties, conjecturing that curtailment of freedom of expression inexorably leads to restrictions on other rights such as the right to be informed. The Right to Freedom of Speech is guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of India.
From the other end, Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution of India is critical in determining the standards applicable to the conduct of the many news-providing outlets i.e. the media institutions in India.
Nevertheless, the right to freedom of speech is confused and equated with the need to overlook the media as a business (dealt by Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution of the Republic of India), which is fundamentally blemished. The rights of a citizen and the rights of a media business owner fall under different creels and outlines, and cannot be considered both are the same.
It is very essential to understand that freedom of speech and expression includes freedom of circulation, to the extent that the ability to propagate one’s expression is inherent in that freedom. Also, it is equally essential to understand that a recipient of news and a publisher of news belong to fundamentally different interest groups. This is in particular why expressing an opinion per se and the business of publishing/circulating news has been so clearly distinguished by our lawmakers. Both, therefore, need different levels of misunderstanding to ensure that a later right preserved in Article 19(1) (g) does not abrogate or limit the rights enshrined in Article 19(1) (a).
Press freedom under Article 19(1) (g) has to be secured as such to allow the public to be well informed. Also, the self-governing testimonial of a state is judged by how mindful the press is to ensure that the ordinary citizen actually gets the right to free speech and expression—to enable an effective democracy and that such a right is not denied to them for commercial ends.
The Constitution, the supreme law of the land, guarantees freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 that deals with the protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech. While Article 19 (1) (a) states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, from the other end Article 19 (1) (g) allows every individual to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
Further, fundamental rights form a part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and cannot be amended. There are certain restrictions imposed on the freedom of speech and expression by Article 19(2), constitutional protection is the greatest guarantee of freedom of speech in India. Also, according to Indian law, the freedom of speech and of the press does not confer an absolute right to express one’s thoughts freely. Article 19 (2) of the Indian constitution enables the legislature to impose certain restrictions as follows:
- Security of the State,
- Friendly relations with foreign States,
- Public order,
- Decency and morality,
- Contempt of court,
- Incitement to an offense, and
- Sovereignty and integrity of India.
In the purview of the above-mentioned restrictions, every individual and media organization needs to understand whether there is any violation of the above restrictions, while they quote Freedom of Speech as the authority. In fact, there is a very thin line that separates the right to freedom of speech from the restrictions associated with the same. So, there is a need to understand the right thoroughly.
-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi