“The freedom of the human mind is recognized in the right to free speech and free press.” – Calvin Coolidge.
Free press is very important and essential for the effective functioning of a democracy. The expression freedom of press means the right to print and publish without any interference from the state or any other public authority. Under our Constitution there is no such thing as freedom of press. Freedom of press is implicit in the freedom of speech and expression. The press cannot claim any additional rights that what is justly available to an average citizen. And this right is subjected to reasonable restrictions given in article 19(2). Freedom of speech and expression of press is mainly developed through various judicial decisions. Let’s discuss those decisions one by one.
First one is Ramesh Thappar vs The State of Madras – In this case justice Shastri observed that the freedom of speech and expression includes propagation of ideas and that freedom was ensured by the freedom of circulation.
Then in Sakal paper Private Limited case, as per the provisions of daily newspaper price and page order 1960, central government regulate the number of pages in newspaper according to the price charged – held that those provisions are unconstitutional because freedom of speech cannot be taken away with the object of placing restrictions on the business activities of a citizen.
In Bennett Coleman case, petitioner challenged various orders which regulate import of newsprint, sale, acquisition and use of newsprint and size and circulation of newspapers. Court held that these orders directly affect the right to freedom of speech and expression under article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. Hence orders are unconstitutional.
In Prabha Dutt case, the petitioner was the chief reporter of the Hindustan Times. She filed a writ of mandamus to direct the superintend of the jail to allow her to interview two convicts who are under a sentence of death. While considering this writ, court again says that a right to freedom of speech and expression includes freedom of press. And guard also allowed her to conduct the interview if the convicts allowed it because the existence of Free Press not imply or spell out any legal obligation of the citizens to supply information to the press.
Next is M.S.M. Sharma vs Shri Krishna Sinha case, it’s commonly known as a searchlight case. In this case the editor of the searchlight had published the portion of Proceedings of the Bihar State Assembly. The Supreme Court held that the publication amounted to the bridge of parliamentary privileges and hence the publication was held to be illegal and malicious. So this majority decision gave more importance to parliamentary privilege than fundamental right. But as dissenting view justice Subba Rao who held that fundamental rights take precedence over privileges and also that the house did not possess the privilege of prohibiting the publication of it’s proceeding.
Later in Re powers, Privilege and Immunities of State Legislature case, the Supreme Court adopt the view of Justice Subba Rao and held that parliamentary must be subject to the fundamental rights of the citizen. The right of speech and expression which includes the right of reporting of legislative proceedings as in conflict with legislative privilege. So the right of speech and expression shall prevail over the legislative privilege.
The Supreme Court in Sahara vs Sebi held that there is no doubt that it is the right of media to report the proceeding of a case and the superior courts could not postpone the set reporting’s of the case for some duration without reasonable cause or in the interest of justice. Next is about whether advertisement get the privilege of freedom of speech and expression. In Hamdard Dawakhana vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that advertisement was made with intention to have commercial gains and they cannot avail the benefit of freedom of speech and expression. Later on, in the Indian Express newspaper case Supreme Court has diluted the ruling of Hamdard Dawakhana. So, I am concluding that in an emerging and developing democracy like India, the institution of press has a special role to play in the planning process of the nation for the future. Denial of the right to freedom of trust to citizens would necessarily undermine the power to influence public opinion and would run counter to the principles of democracy itself.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.
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