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Freedom Of Speech Is The Soul Of Democracy

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -Martin Luther King Jr.

This quotation in itself says a lot of things. The very essence of this quotation is that we should never stop ourselves from speaking for right things and if we are doing so then we are not actually living our lives.

What comes in our mind when we talk about the word, �speech�? Our ability to talk about something, to express ourselves vocally and many more things. Isn�t it? If we go to its technical definition then: speech is a human vocal communication using language. In speaking, speakers perform many different intentional speech acts, e.g., informing, declaring, asking, persuading, directing, and can use enunciation, intonation, degrees of loudness, tempo, and other non-representational or paralinguistic aspects of vocalization to convey meaning.

But speech is not confined to this definition only.This term has such a wide scope and covers all the unthinkable things mostly about which one is usually not aware of.

We all are a part of one of the largest democracies in the world, and the spirit of democracy lies in the freedom of speech and expression provided to its citizens where they can openly and fearlessly express themselves on any occasion ,on any matter and they should also have the right to criticise the current government and its policies not amounting to sedition. Being a citizen of India we have all the rights to express ourselves but how and where this right of free speech and expression is mentioned and what are the dimensions of it, these are the things which need to be enlightened upon.

Our very basic natural right of speech and expression is enumerated in Article 19(1)(a) of Part III of the Constitution of India. Article 19(1)(a) states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression subject to reasonable restrictions defined under article 19(2). This is a vast article which covers all the forms of speech and expressions like- right to express one�s convictions and opinions freely by word of mouth,writing, printing, pictures or any other mode.

It includes:
  1. Liberty of the press
  2. Freedom of circulation
  3. Commercial advertisements
  4. Dramatic performance
  5. Right to education
  6. Right to know
  7. Right to reply
  8. Right to remain silent
  9. Right to listen or decline to listen
  10. Right to use electronic media
  11. Telephone
  12. Casting of vote
  13. Right to fly national flag
  14. Gender Identity, etc.

This is not an exhaustive list. Supreme Court judges J. Bhagwati, J. Untwalia, J. Fazl Ali observed that it was, however, possible that a right not expressly mentioned in any clause of article 19(1) could be covered by necessary implication. These rights are only provided to the citizens of India and not to the foreigners.Freedom of speech and expression is broadly understood as the notion that every person has the natural right to freely express themselves through any media and frontier without outside interference, such as censorship, and without fear of reprisal, such as threats and persecutions.

Let�s discuss these rights in a bit detail. First two rights are about printing of newspapers and pamphlets, etc and their circulation for the propagation and dissemination of ideas. Other two i.e, commercial advertisements and dramatic performance are self explanatory. Right to education in this article includes the freedom of the child to be educated at the primary stage of school in a language of the choice of the child and state cannot impose its controls on it.

Right to know is to receive and impart information has been recognised within this right under article 19(1). Right to reply is a right to get published one's reply in the same news media in which something is published against or in relation to a person the next rights after these says nobody can be compelled to listen and nobody can claim that he has a right to make his voice trespass into the ears or minds of others. Telephonic conversations tapping is not allowed.

Casting of vote is a form of speech for a voter. Right to fly the National flag freely with respect and dignity ia a part of freedom of speech and expression. Dealing with issue of transgenders the court has held that �values of privacy, self-identity,autonomy and personal integrity are fundamental rights guaranteed to members of transgender community under article 19(1) and the state is bound to protect and recognise those rights.

Freedom of speech and expression is an inherent right of a human being which could not be curtailed or violated for any reason except the grounds mentioned in article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. Everybody has a right to raise their voice for themselves and for the society in order to live a peaceful life and bring justice to the mentioned otherwise they would be treated no less than an animal.

Human beings are differentiated from animals because of their ability to speak, to understand and give logic for what they do. Our ability to speak is our fundamental right and that we have to respect and exercise this right wisely.

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