DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION
“My definition of democracy is a form and a method of Government whereby revolutionary changes in the social life are brought about without bloodshed.”
-Dr B.R. Ambedkar
Democracy is a form of government, which could be termed as ‘People’s Power’ or a system in which rulers are accountable to the common people for what they do. A democratic country depicts that the power is vested in the people and its exercise is given to them or to their chosen representatives. All decisions must be based on the consent and opinion of the people.
Freedom of speech and expression is the fundamental right guaranteed to citizens under Indian constitution. Framers of the Indian constitution considered freedom of speech and expression as the foundation of democracy. Drafts of Dr. Ambedkar and Dr. Munshi stated that freedom of speech and expression is a part of personal rights, which must not be abridged by any law made.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the chief architect of the Indian constitution. He stated that social change should be brought out by public opinion and a dynamic public ideology.
Freedom of speech and expression is mentioned in Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, which means the right to express one’s own ideas and opinions. Freedom of speech and expression enables an individual to attain self-fulfillment, to discover truth (Right to information), to strengthen in participating in decision-making (Right to vote) and provides a mechanism to establish a balance between stability and social change.
Freedom of speech and expression is a human right which is protected by various International Conventions. UDHR, ICCPR charter on human and people’s right, American convention on human rights are some of those laws which enforce these rights all over the world.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION
An expression is a matter of liberty and right. The liberty of thought and right to know are the sources of expression. Free Speech is a live wire of the democracy. Freedom of expression is integral to the expansion and fulfillment of individual personality. Freedom of expression is essential in a democratic setup of State where people are the Sovereign rulers. Iver Jennings said, “Without freedom of speech, the appeal to reason which is the basis of democracy cannot be made‟. The freedom of expression has been considered as a necessary condition for a democratic polity. According to Kant, the fundamental postulate of liberty is that no man can be used as a means as man is an end to him as well as to the others. The social interest in free expression is based on the idea that without expression, there is no society at all because communication is the very essence of social life.
The freedom of speech and expression is required to fulfill the following objectives-
1) To discover truth
2) Non self-fulfillment
3) Democratic value: Freedom of speech is the bulwark of democratic Government. This freedom is essential for the proper functioning of the democratic process. It is regarded as the first condition of liberty. It occupies a preferred position in the hierarchy of liberties giving succor and protection to all other liberties. It has been truly said that it is mother of all other liberties.
In a democracy, freedom of speech and expression open up channels of free discussion of issues. Freedom of speech plays a crucial role in the formation of public opinion on social, political and economic matters.
4) To ensure pluralism
LAW OF EXPRESSION UNDER INDIAN CONSTITUTION
The people of India gave to themselves, the Constitution of India, with a view of make it Sovereign, Democratic, Socialistic, Secular and Republic. In our democratic society, pride to place has been provided to freedom of speech and expression, which is the mother of all liberties. One of the main objectives of the Indian Constitution as envisages in the Preamble, is to secure LIBERTY OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION to all the citizens. Freedom of Expression is among the foremost of human rights. It is the communication and practical application of individual freedom of thought. Irrespective of the system of administration, various constitutions make a mention of the freedom of expression. While freedom of thought is a personal freedom; freedom of expression is a collective freedom, whose character becomes more and more pronounced as the technical methods of their diffusion multiply and improve. The right of free speech is absolutely indispensable for the preservation of a free society in which Government is based upon the consent of an informed citizenry and is dedicated to the protection of the rights of all, even the most despised minorities
In order to give effect to this objective, “freedom of speech and expression” has been guaranteed as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) available to all citizens, subject only to restrictions which may be imposed by the State under clause (2) of that Article. The relevant portion of Article 19 reads as follows: Article 19 (1) All citizens shall have the right (a) Freedom of speech and expression. Article 19(2) Nothing in subclause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposed reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of Sovereignty and Integrity of India, the Security of the State, Friendly relations with foreign States. Public order, Decency or Morality, or in relation to Contempt of court, Defamation or Incitement to an offence. Article 19 (1) provides that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably and without arms, to form associations or unions, to move freely throughout the territory of India, to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India and to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. The rights mentioned in Article 19 (1) are not the exhaustive of all rights of a free man.
Some of the rights falling outside Article 19 are freedom to move, right of citizenship, the right to vote, 45 or contest election, the contractual right against the Government, the right of Government servants to continue to employment and the right to strike. The freedoms enumerated in Article 19 (1) are those great and basic rights which are recognized as natural rights inherent in the status of a citizen. But none of these freedoms is absolute or uncontrolled. The rights granted by Article 19 are available only to citizens and not to aliens or foreigners.
Author: Divya Singh
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