Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression. The law states that, “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”.
Speech is God’s gift to mankind. Through speech a human being conveys his thoughts, sentiments and feeling to others. Freedom of speech and expression is thus a natural right, which a human being acquires on birth. It is, therefore, a basic right. “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek and receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” proclaims the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (1948). The people of India declared in the Preamble of the Constitution, which they gave unto themselves their resolve to secure to all the citizens liberty of thought and expression. This resolve is reflected in Article 19(1) (a) which is one of the Articles found in Part III of the Constitution, which enumerates the Fundamental Rights. The right to freedom of speech and expression is subject to limitations imposed under Article 19(2).
Public order as a ground of imposing restrictions was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951. Public order is something more than ordinary maintenance of law and order. Public order in the present context is synonymous with public peace, safety and tranquility.
Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution says that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of Speech and expression means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode. It thus includes the expression of one’s idea through any communicable medium or visible representation, such as gesture, signs, and the like. It also includes the right to propagate or publish the views of other people; otherwise this freedom would not include the freedom of press.
Freedom of expression has some broad special purposes to serve:
1) It helps an individual to attain self-fulfillment.
2) It assists in the discovery of truth.
3) It strengthens the capacity of an individual in participating in decision-making.
4) It provides a mechanism by which it would be possible to establish a reasonable balance between stability and social change.
5) All members of society would be able to form their own beliefs and communicate them freely to others
Freedom to express one’s view is the lifeline of any democratic institution and any attempt to suffocate this right would sound a death to democracy and would help in building autocracy or dictatorship.
The various communication channels are great spreaders of news and views and make considerable impact on the minds of readers and viewers and our known to mould public opinion on vitals issues of national importance. The freedom of speech and expression includes freedom of circulation and propagation of ideas
A citizen has fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication and as such have an access to telecasting for the purpose.
Invasion on right to privacy : Telephone tapping violates Art. 19(1)(a) unless it comes within grounds of restriction under Art. 19(2). Under the guidelines laid down by the Court, the Home Secretary of the center and state governments can only issue an order for telephone tapping. The order is subject to review by a higher power review committee and the period for telephone tapping cannot exceed two months unless approved by the review authority.
Freedom Of Press
The fundamental right of the freedom of press implicit in the right the freedom of speech and expression, is essential for the political liberty and proper functioning of democracy. Freedom of press is the heart of social and political intercourse. It is the primary duty of the courts to uphold the freedom of press and invalidate all laws or administrative actions, which interfere with it contrary to the constitutional mandate.
Right To Information
The right to know, ‘receive and impart information has been recognized within the right to freedom of speech and expression. A citizen has a fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving information and as such to have an access to telecasting for the purpose.
Grounds Of Restrictions
1) Security of State.
2) Friendly relations with foreign states.
3) Public Order
4) Decency or morality.
5) Contempt of Court:
7) Incitement to an offence.
It can be easily concluded that right to freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important fundamental right. It includes circulating one’s views by words or in writing or through audiovisual instrumentalities, through advertisements and through any other communication channel. It also comprises of right to information, freedom of press etc. Thus this fundamental right has a vast scope.