In this modern hot and chase world, Media, without a doubt plays a very
important role in a participatory democracy by informing people about all the
happenings within the surroundings, the truth and the situations they reside in.
Media law is not an uniform and integrated body of law like the law of contract
or the law of crimes. Moreover, in today’s world Media in our lives play a very
crucial role in human mind as we are surrounded by all kinds media devices which
include radio, television, mobile and internet. The concept of mass
communication was defined during the late 19th century, which is indeed
associated with media. Along with that the technological development and the
increased needs of the society, which make it possible to create a new media as
media has become an irreplaceable parcel to the modern human life, furthermore,
media creates, moulds and develops the public opinion to a large extent in a
As said, Media not plays an important role within the society but it also
functions as watchdog over the activities of government and as such they are
subjected to certain specific regulations based upon the common values such as
the freedom of expression, pluralism, copyright protection, promotion of
cultural and linguistic diversity and as a result in most of the democratic
countries these regulators serves mainly two important purposes which are the
overseeing the allocation of broadcast frequencies and secondly to develop codes
and ethics to deal with various broadcast practice topics.
In a democratic society, the most important source of raising the voice of
masses is through media and it creates an impact not only regionally but in
respect of the whole international arena. For instance, the atrocities in Syria
got worldwide support through media and as such free media in any democratic
society is an oxygen to the existence of free will and to unearth the hidden
Media- Under the Indian Constitutional Framework of India:
The legal framework of the freedom of press in India has been in true sense
inspired by various international bodies such as the United Nations, US
constitution and the British Constitution. The Universal Declaration of Human
Rights in its charter under Article 19 clearly stated that “Everyone has the
right to freedom of opinion and expression and right to seek and impart
information through any medium regardless of the frontier”.
With this there in the constituent assembly debate, there was an urge to include
freedom of press as a separate Article but the framers of the Indian
Constitution were well aware of the fact that absolute freedom to media may
become very disastrous and as such Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of the drafting
committee stated : “ the press is merely another way of stating an individual or
a citizen. The press has no special rights which are not to be given or which
are not to be exercised by the citizen in his individual capacity. The Editor of
a press or a Manager are all citizens and therefore when they choose to write in
the news paper, they are merely exercising their right of expression and
therefore no special mention is necessary of the freedom of press at all”.
Earlier from the time of struggle of Independence Media has been a catalyst and
there developed various trends during that period of time as various laws were
proposed and even implemented during the colonial period which are:-
# The Press and Registration of Books Act
# Vernacular Press Act, 1878
# Telegraphic Act, 1885
# The Newspaper (Incitement to an offence) Act,1905
# Copyright Act,1911
# Cinematographic Act,1918
# Indian Press Act, 1910
In the Indian context, though, Media has developed leaps and bounds but at
certain times it has struggled to surface its freedom and in that regard, The
Indian Judiciary played a very pivotal role in interpreting Article 19 of the
Indian Constitution. At the first sight, in the case of Sakal Newspaper Pvt Ltd
vs Union of Indiain which there was constitutional validity challenge of the
Newspaper (Print and Page) Act, 1956 which empowered the government to regulate
the price of paper in relation to their pages and size but the Honourable
Supreme Court held that the State cannot make any law which would directly
affect the circulation of a newspaper as it would amount to violation of the
fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. In
yet another case ofIndian Express Newspaper Ltd vs Union of Indiawhere there
was a challenge to the working journalist (condition of service) and
miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1956 on the ground that it violates Article 19
The Act was impunged to regulate the service conditions of the working
journalist and other persons employed in the newspaper establishment. The
Honourable Supreme Court in this case came to the conclusion that the Working
Journalists (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 was
enacted for the amelioration of the conditions of those employed in the
newspaper industry and that any impact of the legislation on the right to
freedom of speech and expression as complained by the petitioners was far too
remote and incidental to warrant a striking down of the legislation. Moreover,
that the government has no monopoly over the electronic media and an Indian
citizen has the right to telecast and broadcast the viewers through media has
been also held by the Supreme Court in the case of Minister of Information and
Broadcasting vs Cricket Association of Bengal.
Besides this, the concept of “right to know” under Article 19 of the Indian
Constitution was also interpreted by the Judiciary in the case ofSmt Indira
Gandhi vs Raj Narain, where Justice KK Mathews in his concurring Judgement
observed that “In a government of responsibility like ours, where all the agents
of the public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but few
secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public act,
everything that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are
entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing.
The right to know, which is derived from the concept of freedom of speech,
though not absolute, is a factor which should make one wary, when secrecy is
claimed for transactions which can, at any rate, have no repercussion on public
security. To cover with veil of secrecy, the common routine business is not in
the interest of the public. Such secrecy can seldom be legitimately desired. It
is generally desired for the purpose of parities and politics or personal
self-interest or bureaucratic routine. The responsibility of officials to
explain and to justify their acts is the chief safeguard against oppression and
corruption”. Moreover in the case of S.P. Gupta vs Union of India, where
Justice Bhagwati held that, “no democracy can survive without the transparent
and accountable information”.
From this, it is quite evident that not only the Constitution of India makes the
existence of freedom of media but in reference to the Indian context it is
equally supplemented by the Judicial Activism which clearly establishes Right to
Freedom of Press under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
Media- Under the International Legal Framework:
The term Media Freedom is often used along with other terms such as “ Freedom of
Speech” and “Freedom of Expression” but the protection of media becomes more
necessary in the context that it works as public watch dog and helps to
disseminate information and ideas which inturn guarantees the right of public to
seek and receive information.
In the International arena, the Universal Decleration of Human Rights under
Article 19 which reads as“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers”, played an instrument role in understanding the role
for protection of Media, besides this the European Convention on Human Rights
also enrishes it under Article 10which states Everyone has the right to freedom
This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart
information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of
frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of
broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises and the exercise of these
freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject
to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by
law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national
security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder
or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the
reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information
received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the
judiciary.Alongside this, the ICCPR in Part III under Article 19 also
gurantees Freedom of expression and there various regional standards which also
protects the freedom of media in their drafts such the American Convention on
Human Rights and Amsterdam Recommendation- Freedom of Media and the
Role of Media in a Democratic Society - As a Promoter and Protector of Human Rights:
In a modern democratic world the socio-political life would be impossible
without the existence of mass media and as result they are often recognized as
“fourth pillar” of democracy along with the Executive, Legislative and the
Judiciary. Media law as branch legal science, which regulates the activities the
principles of dissemination of media products and on the other handcan affect
the format and content of media products. Some regulations apply only to
specific types of media. For example, there are broadcasting laws that apply
only to the activities of broadcast media. More general legal provisions are to
be respected by all media.
The media not only regulates the public opinion but at the same it time it work
as a protector of Human Rights and also unhide the reality by exposing
corruption and also with its impact and wide reach it helps to mobilize people
and raise awareness which can be seen by certain examples which are:
# Wide Reach- Rohingya Crisis, Syria Violence, Jessica Lal Murder Case
# Strong Impact- Nirbhaya Case, CWG Scam, 2g Spectrum
# Raises Awareness- Cricket Betting Scandal 1999, Mob Lynching and IAC movement
# Ability to mobilize people and Create Awareness- NRC issue in Assam
From this it is quite evident that Media through its freedom has been able to
chalk out important issues and bring it to the public dominion which has really
impacted the Nation at large.
Thus to conclude, Media protection takes a very pivotal position because of the
special role such as to work as public watchdog as well as the assurance to
disseminate the information to the public in general and it is a fact that Media
is the main cornerstone for open and participatory democracy.
Moreover, the freedom to express to one’s ideals and to hold an opinion is an
important pre requisite for political process in a democratic society and it
national level it is important for good government and to prosper in
socio-economic process and as such without such broad gurantee of freedom of
speech and expression there cannot be a free society and no democratic
However, in the researcher’s opinion Freedom of expression is a fundamental
human right that must be upheld in democratic societies. Yet there is a worrying
global trend of governments unjustifiably limiting freedom of speech, targeting
journalists, protesters and other persons considered to be dissenting from
government views. It is imperative that civil societies as well as the
individuals across the globe are vigilant in defending freedom of expression.
1.Facets of Media Law by Madhavi Goradia.
2.Introduction to Media Law by lyudmila Handzhiyska and Cheyenne Mackay.
4.Privacy and Media Law by Sonia Makija.
5.Communication rights: Fundamental Human Rights for allby S Mcloard.
6.Media Laws in India: Origin, Analysis and Relevance in Present Scenario by Dr
Archana and Dr Rahul Tripathi.
7.FREEDOM OF MEDIA IN INDIA – (A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE) by Ruheela Hassan.
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Supra Note 1.
AIR 1962 SC 305.
AIR 1958 SC 578.
AIR 1995 2 SCC 161.
AIR 1975 SC 865.
Sonal Makija, Privacy and Media Law, https://cis-india.org/internet-governance/blog/privacy/privacy-media-law,
(Jan 31, 9.40pm).
AIR 1982 SC 149.
Freedom of the Press in India: Constitutional and Legal Framework, http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/40642/10/14_chapter5.pdf,
(Jan 31, 12.30am).
lyudmila Handzhiyska and Cheyenne Mackay, Introduction to Media Law, Verein
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Victoria Chioma Nwankwo,THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS: An
analysis of the BBC documentary, ‘Chocolate: the bitter truth’,2011,https://munin.uit.no/bitstream/handle/10037/3500/thesis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y,
( Feb 1, 5.34 pm).
Supra Note 1.
Critically Analysis of Broadcasting Right & Control
Theories of Press
Advertisement and Freedom of Speech and Expression
The Times Now Case: A tussle between the media and the judiciary
Media and Victims of Sexual Assault
Freedom of Press - Article 19(1)(a)
Role of gender in food politics