Freedom of press in India

What is Freedom of press?

  • In India, freedom of the press has been treated as part of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.
  • The Indian constitution guarantees the “freedom of speech and expression” as a fundamental right of every citizen of India.

Restrictions on the freedom of press:

  • The restrictions that apply to the “freedom of speech and expression” also apply to the “freedom of press and media”.
  • Article 19(2),provides reasonable restrictions on the following grounds:
  • In the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • Security of the state, public order, decency, or morality, or in relation to contempt of courts, defamation,
  • Freedom of press is not absolute in India.

Why is freedom of press necessary?

  • It acts as a check on Government and Administrators.
  • The duty of a free press is to raise voice against any social ill or wrong.
  • It works towards strengthening the sovereignty and integrity of a nation.
  • It helps in building an environment where the people of the country can cultivate unity and harmony.
  • A free press is fundamental to a democratic society
  • The press provides the platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard.
  • At national, regional and local level, it is the public’s watchdog, activist and guardian as well as educator, entertainer and contemporary chronicler.
  • It is helpful in strengthening democracy.
  • In India, the media have played a key role in providing information to the people about social and economic evils.

Supreme Court verdicts on the freedom of speech

  • In Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras, the Supreme Court acknowledged, “Freedom of speech and of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations”.
  • InIndian Express Newspapers v. Union of India, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of freedom of the press in these words:
    • The expression freedom of the press has not been used in Article 19 but it is understood within Article 19(1)(a). The expression means freedom from interference from authority, which would have the effect of interference with the content and circulation of newspapers. There cannot be any interference with that freedom in the name of public interest.
  • In Tata Press Ltd. V. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. the Supreme Court held that a commercial advertisement or commercial speech was also a part of the freedom of speech and expression.
  • In India, freedom of the press has been treated as part of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the constitution in Brij Bhushan and Another vs the State of Delhi, AIR 1950 and Sakal papers(P) Ltd vs Union of India, AIR 1962.
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