Updated: Jul 31
As we all know, India is the biggest democracy in the world. Also, Several rights have been issued to the citizens of the country by the constitution of India.
One such right is 'Right to freedom of speech & expression’. This right has been defined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution. It states that 'All citizens of India have the freedom of speech & expression'. The right to freedom of speech & expression refers to ‘Expression of one's convictions or opinions freely by words of mouth, mode of printing, mode of writing, or any other mode’. But, freedom is not absolute. It comes with reasonable restrictions so that the wrong use of this freedom by the citizens of the country can be avoided. The grounds on which the freedom of speech & expression can be restricted are: Sovereignty of India, Integrity of India, Security of the states, Friendly relations with foreign states, public order, Decency & Morality, Contempt of court, Defamation and Incitement to an offense. The Government of India is free to impose restrictions on the issued freedom by making laws on these above-mentioned grounds.
Despite these reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech & expression, Citizens of the country generally exceed their limits & break the law by using the given freedom in more than permissible way. Nowadays, this is at a peak in our country. There are innumerable instances where the existing laws have been broken by the people of the country. One of the very recent examples is of stand up comedian Surleen Kaur. Some days back, ISKCON has filed a police complaint against her for using derogatory words for ISKCON, Hindus & Hindu Gods. The problem started when one of the stand-up videos of Surleen went viral on social media. In that video of 2019, she made an inappropriate statement against a religious institution called ISKCON. She stated, “Beshak hum sab ISKCON wale hain, par andar se sab harami porn wale hain”. Also, she insulted Lord Ganesha in that particular video. The way she has related a reputed religious institution with porn clearly shows the more than permissible use of freedom of speech & expression by her.
Another example of wrong use of freedom of speech & expression, which is a relatable one, is spreading fake news through mediums like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Nowadays, when the country is busy fighting Coronavirus, we can see a lot of fake news on social media platforms around us. This fake news is very dangerous in nature sometimes & can also cause many problems in the country. For e.g., Social conflict, misinformation, etc.
To Conclude, Freedom of speech & expression is a very important right issued to the citizens of India and if we use this in the right way, it will be helpful for our nation as well as for us. We have been provided several rights including the right to freedom of speech & expression as a citizen of a democratic country but it doesn't mean that we are absolutely free to use the issued rights in any way we want. These are not meant to be used in the wrong way & the citizens of the country have to understand this point. India is a developing democratic country and the use of given rights like right to freedom of speech & expression by the people of the country in the wrong way can slow down the growth of the country. Also, the Government should make some strong laws in addition to the existing ones to counter the problem of wrong use of this freedom.
PATANJALI, DHEERENDRA. “Freedom of Speech and Expression India v America - A study.”theyouth.in. Indialawjournal, 25 Jun. 2020.
Lloyd Law College,Greater Noida.