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Freedom Of Speech And Expression Wrt Indian Constitution

Every democratic society is built on the fundamental principle of freedom of speech and expression. The right to open communication and the ability to learn from others are fundamental components of free speech. It is thought to be the prerequisite for liberty. Considered the progenitor of all other freedoms. It is among the most significant fundamental liberties that are protected from repression or control by the government. The Constitution guarantees this fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression in Article 19(1)(a).

Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), freedom of expression is acknowledged as a human right. Since free expression is not a limitless right, Article 19(2) permits limitations. However, the only thing that can limit the right to free speech is the law. The rights to print, broadcast, and communicate are also included.

Origin and Significance
In India, the right to free speech and expression is particularly valued. Its significance is readily apparent from the fact that the constitution's preamble guarantees everyone the freedom to think, speak, believe, practise their religion, and worship, among other things. The Preamble of the Constitution outlines the constitutional significance of the right to free speech, which is then translated into a fundamental human right under Article 19(1)(a) as "freedom of speech and expression."

There is a long history of speech and expression freedom. It is included in the current international agreement on human rights. The concept of free speech is thought to have first appeared in the late 6th or early 5th century BC. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion were among the ideals of the Roman Republic. Early human rights documents contain the concepts of freedom of speech. The 1689 English Bill of Rights provides the legal basis for the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

The unalienable right to freedom of speech was confirmed during the French Revolution in 1789. At least according to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' dissent in Abrams v. United States, one of the early rulings to interpret and mould the theory that would eventually come to hold a nearly sacred place in American culture, free speech has been an experiment from the beginning. It has a strong connection to democracy. The United States Constitution's First Amendment states that the right to free expression is one of its fundamental provisions.

In the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, BHAGWATI J. highlighted the importance of freedom of speech and expression by using the following words: "Free debate and open discussion are the fundamental foundations of democracy because they are the sole means by which government activity can be corrected in a democratic setting. If democracy is defined as "government of the people, by the people," then it follows that every citizen must have the right to take part in the democratic process. Additionally, free and open discussion of public issues is crucial to enabling citizens to exercise their right to vote in an informed manner.

Freedom of Speech and Democracy

A robust democracy and a free society have always been characterised by the freedom of speech and expression. It has been argued that in a democratic society, it is fundamental and indivisible. It is the democracy's fourth pillar. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is what democracy is all about. Therefore, the people control democracy, and the freedom of speech and expression is crucial to the efficient operation of the state.

The ability to express oneself freely allows people to live humane lives as opposed to lifeless animal existences. It has been said that without the freedom of speech and expression, democracy cannot exist. The need to preserve equilibrium stems from the fact that some people are corrupt and misuse their rights. Democracy and the First Amendment's guarantees for free expression are closely related in the United States. Freedom of expression was recognised as a fundamental human right by the European Convention on Human Rights. Since it allows people to express themselves freely, it is referred regarded as the cornerstone of democracy. It is seen as a crucial component of democracy as a result.

"... (The freedom) lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations, for without free political discussion, no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the processes of popular government, is possible," Chief Justice Patanjali Shastri said in Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras. Such amplitude of freedom could lead to abuse hazards. However, Madison—who was instrumental in crafting the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution-may have agreed with the framers of the Constitution that it is preferable to let some of its noxious branches grow lushly rather than cutting them off and weakening the branches that are producing the right fruits. According to Justice K.K. Mathew's observations, "It follows naturally from the provisions of the Constitution establishing it that the freedom of expression concerning public affairs is indispensable to the operation of the democratic system."

Speaking and expressing oneself freely is crucial to a democratic society. The majority of people believe that voting is the only form of democracy. It is not, however, that way. Voting is only one aspect of democracy. Citizens continue to have a say in the nation even after elections and the formation of governments. Even after they have cast their votes, they are still able to express their opinions. It encompasses more than just the ability to speak clearly, logically, and politely. It also contains insulting, impolite, illogical, and even perplexing proverbs. In order to properly govern the state, the freedom of speech and expression is also subject to appropriate constraints.

Freedom Of Speech And Expression Wrt Press

In a democracy, the right to free speech and expression is essential. For political liberty and the efficient operation of democracy, the fundamental right to freedom of the press—implied in the right to freedom of speech and expression—is crucial. Press freedom is considered a "species of which freedom of expression is a genus," and it is inferred from the freedom of speech and expression. "Freedom of speech and of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations, for without free political discussion no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the process of popular government, is possible," Patanjali Shastri J. correctly noted in Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras.

According to Lord Mansfield, "the liberty of the press" is "the printing of ideas without a licence, subject to the laws of society." Therefore, the freedom of the press entails the ability to publish and print anything without seeking prior approval. Press freedom extends beyond print media, such as newspapers and journals. It also consists of booklets, circulars, and any other kind of publication that provides a channel for opinion and information.

According to the American Press Commission, "political liberty cannot exist without press freedom." No freedom is guaranteed when people are unable to openly communicate their ideas to one another. In a free society, the means to achieve every goal of liberty are already in place when there is freedom of expression. Therefore, among all the liberties, free expression is special. A similar opinion has also been voiced by the Indian Press Commission. According to the statement, "Public opinion can care for and guide democracy, and the press is the ideal medium through which opinion can become articulate." Democracy can flourish not only under the watchful eye of its legislature but also under the care and direction of the people.

Since the expression also implies publication, press freedom falls under this heading. The goal must be the free dissemination of ideas, which can be accomplished through the media or on the platform. Freedom of circulation ensures the freedom of ideas to spread. Both the freedom of publication and the freedom of circulation are necessary for that freedom. In fact, the publication would not be very useful without circulation.

The ability to spread ideas beyond one's own beliefs is a part of the freedom of speech and expression. Press freedom would not be included in this freedom if it did not also include the freedom to disseminate or publish other people's opinions. The Supreme Court ruled in Prabhu Dutt v. Union of India that press freedom includes the right to know news and information on government administration. However, in the best interests of society and the person from whom the press gets its information, limitations may be placed on this privilege.

There is no distinct guarantee of press freedom under the Freedom of Speech and Expression Act; instead, all people are granted the right to free speech. Additionally, this ruling has shown that the Indian Constitution's protection of press freedom does not supersede those of the average person.

We might therefore conclude that the degree to which persons are able to exercise their right to free speech and expression determines the worth of that freedom. Unrestricted speech and expression are essential human rights. It is the cornerstone of representative democracy. It is also necessary for the democratic process to run smoothly. The phrase "in the interest of public order" as it appears in Article 19 encompasses both statements that have the potential to cause chaos as well as those that are specifically meant to do so.

The establishment of public order and its regulation should be properly and rationally related. Everyone is entitled to the freedom of expression and speech. Speech is vital because it enables people to communicate their ideas, attitudes, and feelings to one another. Since a human being is born with it, it is a natural right. As such, it is an inalienable right that the people should not be denied.

Written By: Akanksha

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