Freedom of Press: An essential part of Freedom of Speech & Expression

Yangsorang Rongreisek *

The land where we live is not Myanmar or North Korea but India -- that is upholding democratic principles and values for the well-being and growth of the people of the land. And it is all because of the free press running in the country that any freelancers can write independently but with some restrictions, i.e. without being unlawful and blasphemous in the writing. How happy this writer also felt when his article which he named "The Tribal Economy of Manipur: An Insight" surfaced in the Manipur Mail way back in 1981!

Frankly, he had never claimed to be an economist when he hardly knew Economics. Out of sheer enthusiasm with a great concern, he wrote the article as the tribal economy of Manipur was shockingly poor due to lack of road connectivity nearly forty years ago. A peculiar situation cropped up when one teacher of a higher secondary school strongly contested his writing.

The teacher countered awkwardly whether he had undertaken any research on the soil of Manipur hills as he mentioned in the article that the soil of the said hills was rich and did not have the disadvantages of Jhum fields at high altitudes. This writer told him that it was a write-up supported by sufficient materials available with him. That was just the campus beats for the golden era in the early 1980s.

Moreover, there is also no effort of the state govt of Manipur currently underway to construct or improve roads to connect villages situated at the foot-hills with the state capital where men cannot see far with mountains all around. In the recent past, the print and electronic media of Manipur have brought out the reality of the present horrible road condition of Churachandpur town to Henglep in Churachandpur district.

For decades, very poor infrastructure and limited connectivity have acted as roadblocks hindering the socio-economic development of hill areas of Manipur. In the case of Arunachal Pradesh, the Union Ministry of Road and Transport is planning to expedite the Trans-Arunachal Highway Project.

The Ministry will be driving the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme of Roads and Highways covering 2,319 kilometres and the North-East Council (NEC) also has set its focus on building roads spanning 10,500 kilometres which will include inter-state and roads of economic importance.

With the growth of English Dailies in the state from 1996 onward, any person of any background wrote on any topics. Articles by some writers were accommodated for publication in the dailies and some weren't in its initial stages. Admirably, the advantage in today's trend is that the writers are getting enough of what they intend to convey to the responsible citizens through the prism of a vibrant free press in Manipur.

The writers of different essays clearly know the freedom of press is not absolute just as the freedom of expression is not. They write on and on knowing fully well that public interest has to be safeguarded by Article 19(1) (A) of the Indian Constitution which lays down reasonable limitations to the freedom of expression in matters affecting sovereignty & integrity of state, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency & morality, contempt of court, defamation and incitement to an offence.

The fact is that freedom of press is not specifically mentioned in Article 19(1) (A) of the Constitution of India and what is mentioned there is only freedom of speech and expression. In the Constituent Assembly Debates, it was made clear by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee that no special mention of the freedom of press was necessary at all as the press and an individual or a citizen was the same as far as their right of expression was concerned.

The framers of the Indian Constitution considered freedom of the press as an essential part of the freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in Article 19(1) (A) of the constitution. To preserve the democratic way of life, it is essential that people should have the freedom to express their feelings to make their views known to the people at large.

The press, a powerful media of mass communication should be free to play its role in building a strong viable society. Denial of the freedom of press to citizens would necessarily undermine the power to influence public opinion. Besides the restrictions imposed on the press by the constitution, there exist various other laws which further curtail press freedom and the right of the citizens to information as well as the right to freedom of speech and expression.

They are all in force in the interest of public order of the sovereignty and security of the state. The origin of the concept of freedom of press took place in England. From the earliest times in the west, persecution for the expression of opinion even in matter relating to science and philosophy was restored to by both the church and the state, to suppress alleged hearsay, corruption of the youth or sedition.

Such restraints, though licensing and censorship, came to be accentuated after the appearance of newspaper in the 17th Century which demonstrated how powerful the press was as a medium of expression.

Shortly afterwards, newspapers came to take up the cause of the opposition against monarchical absolutism, which in turn, led to different method of suppression. It was in protest against such governmental interference that freedom of the press was built up in England.

Opposition to governmental interference, which had been brewing up for some time, was supported by the logical argument by Milton in his Areopagitica(1644), for instance, that free men must have the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience above all liberties.

Any of censorship was intolerable whether imposed by a royal decree or by legislation. In fact, Milton's Areopagitica was a protest addressed to the Long Parliament which had taken up licensing, after the abolition of the Star Chamber. It was as a result of such agitation that the Licensing Act of 1662 was eventually refused to be renewed by the House of Commons in 1694.

The history of the press in England was thus a triumph of the people against the power of the licensor. Since there was no written constitution or any guarantee of fundamental rights in England, the concept of freedom of the press like the wider concept of freedom of expression had been basically negative.

In other words, freedom of press in England meant the right to print and publish anything which was not prohibited by law or made an offence- such as sedition, contempt of court, obscenity, defamation and blasphemy. In India before independence, there was no constitutional or statutory guarantee of freedom of an individual or media/press. At most, some common law freedom could be claimed by the press. There were many instances when the freedom of press had been suppressed by the legislature.

In Sakal Papers vs Union of India, the daily newspapers (Price& Page) Order, 1960 which fixed the number of pages and size which a newspaper could publish at a price was held to be violative of freedom of press and not a reasonable restriction under the Article 19(2). The freedom of a journalist is an ordinary part of the freedom of the subject and to whatever length, the subject in general may go.

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution ensures to all citizens inter alia liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Mrs. Gandhi never had much faith in the press. Her misgivings about the press were first expressed in her address to the International Press Institute Assembly in New Delhi on November 15, 1966 when she blamed the press for giving wide publicity to student unrest in the country.

She said "How much liberty should the press have in country like India which is engaged in fighting a war against poverty, backwardness, superstition and ignorance". She would not suggest restrictions that might be imposed on the press but said it was for the leading editions and journalists of the country to decide. Nine years later in 1975, she declared emergency by taking action against the press immediately and complete censorship was imposed on media houses in the country.

For achieving the main objects of Freedom of Speech and Expression, freedom of the press has been included as part of freedom of speech and expression which is universally recognised right adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization on 10th December, 1948. Concepts of the appropriate role for journalism vary between countries. In some nations, the news media are controlled by government intervention and are not fully independent.

In some countries, the news media are independent of the govt but instead operate as private industry motivated by profits. Myanmar has undergone strict censorship and regulation since 1962 Burma Coup D'état. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press; however, the govt prohibits the exercise of these rights in practice. There have been moves to lift censorship in that country.

Burma announced on 20 August, 2012 that it will stop censoring media before publication but journalists could still face consequences for what they write and say. North Korea allows only limited access to independent news sources and almost no access to the Internet.

The vast majority of news and information comes from the official Korean Central News Agency which reports mainly on statements from the political leadership. This leaves citizens with only one filtered point of view when the more news and information is available to the public in the freer the society like the United States of America and India where citizens tend to be well-informed on issues affecting their communities, govt and everyday dealings.

In addition to the varying nature of how media organizations are run and funded, countries have differing implementations of laws handling the freedom of speech and libel cases (the act of printing a statement about somebody that is not true). More recently, the entire journalism business model has been turned upside down by the rise of the internet and even more recently, social media.

Suddenly anyone can be a news publisher, regardless of their expertise, sense of fairness or motives. Fake news from individual or state actors can spread like wildfire through Facebook, Twitter and other similar outlets. Whether it is a boon or curse for mankind, the advent of the internet and smartphones has brought significant changes to the media landscape in recent years.

This has created a shift in the consumption of print media channels as people increasingly consume news through e-readers, smartphones and other personal electronic devices as opposed to the more traditional formats of newspapers, magazines or television news channels. Newspapers have seen print revenues sink at a faster pace than the rate of growth for digital revenues--the gift of the free press.

* Yangsorang Rongreisek wrote this article for
The writer is a Longa Koireng in Kangpokpi District and can be reached at yangsorangr65(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 09, 2019.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Laibi Oinam : Lady Auto Driver ...
  • Covid-19 Status 03 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Relief @ Bungte Chiru Village: Gallery
  • Impact of childhood exposure to environment
  • Who to blame for CCpur COVID +ve explosion
  • Covid-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Govt Update on Stranded Manipuri- 03 June
  • Interior Designer at R-Square (Imphal)
  • Disqualification of 7 MLAs (NPF), Nagaland
  • Webinar on mental health during COVID-19
  • Battle for RS seat
  • Train @Jiri [May 28] #2 : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 02 June : Govt of Manipur
  • World Bicycle Day - 3rd June
  • Delimitation exercise in Manipur
  • Deputation of manpower from IBSD, Imphal
  • Relief Services at Bungte Chiru Village
  • Open Letter to CM
  • 'Baseless allegations against Congress'
  • Webinar on Community Engagement (RCCE)
  • Need to keep virus contained
  • Geographical Indication, Leirum Phee & others
  • Covid-19 Status 01 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Lockdown 5.0 : Guidelines [01 June]
  • No excuse for inaction: #EndTobacco
  • Open Letter reg. Faumei Gonglin
  • Date of Poll : Deferred Rajya Sabha Poll
  • Hearing of suo motu criminal contempt case
  • Dedicated COVID-19 hospital
  • Lockdown phobia
  • Relief Services in 5 dists #1 : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 31 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Lockdown Relief Services in 5 districts
  • COVID Saab & Brain Gain
  • Tech Determinism: Privacy vs Surveillance
  • Covid-19 Curfew Violators - 31 May
  • Gulmohar :: Poem
  • 'COVID-19- broken governance in Nagaland'
  • COVID-19 : Trace, Test and Treat
  • Thang Ta at Sangai Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 30 May : Govt of Manipur
  • June Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Consent in Medical Practice
  • India-Taiwan/ Global Bamboo-Tech Forum
  • Rise in gender-based violence during COVID
  • Covid-19 : Govt Order - 30 May
  • Another blessing in disguise
  • Rajkumari Muktasana - Artiste : Gallery
  • A novitiating criminal lawyer's reflections
  • Childline Thoubal, frontlines during lockdown
  • Webinar on 'Dynamics of Online Education'
  • Share market as career options
  • The Beauty of It :: Poem
  • Countdown to May 31
  • Contemplating on the impending changes
  • Train @Jiri [May 28] #1 : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 28 May : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Fisabishiing Thabak Suhanbiyu'
  • Thoughts random: In times of coronavirus - V
  • Appeal to CM from Students in Delhi
  • Deadly Darkness :: Poem
  • 'Avoid stigmatization against Returnees'
  • Martin Ennals Award 2021 : Nominations
  • Make information come more freely
  • Need for greater aggression & sterner actions
  • Stuctures @ Willong Khullen, Maram : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 27 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Discussion with tribal leader- 27 May : Gallery
  • A walk to remember :: Poem
  • School at Senapati as quarantine center
  • Delhi Declaration- environmental conservation
  • Letter to Governor on Lhukhosei Zou's case
  • Increase of COVID-19 +ve cases in Nagaland
  • Dialogue: Inequality-Bridging the Divide
  • Learning to live with COVID-19
  • I Rise :: Film Synopsis & Biography
  • Covid-19 Status 26 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Legal framework behind Lockdown, Curfew
  • Furnishing of Fees Info from Private School
  • Curfew Violators - 26 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Continuing woes of people in Manipur
  • Increasing positive cases of COVID-19
  • Measures @ Imphal Airport - 25 May : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 25 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Modified SOP for Air Traveller- 25 May : GOM
  • Haoginlun, Chingdakoiba: eMing
  • Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Manipur
  • COVID-19 & ecology, environment in Manipur
  • Vegetable flood at Wabagai during lock down
  • Technology to the rescue
  • M.K Binodini Devi's Sense of Beauty
  • Covid-19 Status 24 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Monkeys seen on the streets of Imphal
  • Id-Ul-Fitr :: Book
  • Make in Manipur, try Yu
  • SOP for Air Traveller- 24 May : Manipur Govt
  • Economic Relief package for small business
  • Manipur Muslims stranded in Gujarat
  • Bracing up for arrival by air
  • Motsillaba Mingsel : Film Synopsis
  • Covid-19 Status 23 May : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 emergency response- observation
  • Ugly side of lockdown during COVID-19
  • International Day of Biodiversity 2020
  • Requests for Orders on 7th UGC Pay
  • Mother - A Deity :: Poem
  • Preparing for the inevitable change
  • Phisakol #3 :: eRang
  • Covid-19 Status 22 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Two students at 'Model Conference of Parties'
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • It's a cup of my Tea - International Tea Day
  • Govts' accountability in response to COVID-19
  • Online Faculty Development Program at RGU
  • Verse for Schoolchildren :: Poem
  • Growing number of positive cases
  • Tending to the trivialities in time
  • International Day for Biological Diversity
  • Covid-19 Status 21 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Issues of Manipuri nurses in Kolkata
  • Item Distribution to Quarantine centres
  • Orders/Memo - 21 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Workshop On Writing Research Paper
  • Appeal to all the Stranded Denizens
  • 'Reverify the lists of evacuees'
  • Helpline for Women Entrepreneurs of NE
  • Focus on quarantine centres
  • Counting on our collective responsibilities
  • Art has no gender & neither do Artists
  • Covid-19 Status 20 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Medical assistance to journalist awarded
  • 13th Manipur State Film Awards, 2020
  • Power loom weave intricately designed cloth
  • Dilemma after High School
  • Quarantine Centre- Negligence at Saitu, Kpi
  • 'This is no time to politicize the pandemic'
  • Highest spike on single day with 16
  • Foresight & vision - need of the hour
  • Distribution for Manipuri @ Blore: Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 19 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Hand sanitizer to Journalists : Gallery
  • Manipur Migrants in Bengaluru's Safety Net
  • Orders/Memo [19 May] : Govt of Manipur
  • A Forbidden Love : Poem
  • Social advocacy as career choice
  • Total curfew : Confusing the people
  • Preparing for the long haul
  • Tungjoi Glory Day #2 : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 18 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Gandhi's talisman.. to reform public health
  • A view of the Thames
  • COVID-19 knocks our education system
  • Clarification from Mumbai Returnee [May 18]
  • Nagaland : Demand for Special Trains
  • Beating China on the tally
  • Turning threat into opportunity
  • How Lockdown impact Textile Industry
  • Covid-19 Status 17 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Fight COVID-19 !! :: Poem
  • Thoughts random: In times of coronavirus- IV
  • Webinar series with a focus on COVID-19
  • COVID-19 gi matangda suggestion khara
  • Urges to impose curfew on Eid-ul-Fitr
  • Hundreds and hundreds returning
  • Emotional reverberations during COVID-19
  • Covid-19 Status 16 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Ningombam Sunibala : NE Success Stories
  • Home Sweet Home vis-a-vis Lockdown Exodus
  • Issue of Curfew Pass [May 16]
  • e-Videos Learning should be made in English
  • The Old Man in the Evening :: Poem
  • The silver lining
  • Kabui Lai of Kakching
  • Covid-19 Status 15 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Have you ever sanitize your mind ?
  • Challenges in the new normal
  • We Real Brave :: Poem
  • Know our health care system
  • How about the 14 days quarantine ?
  • Psychological side of COVID-19 epidemic
  • Associates & Junior Associates at MaolKeki
  • Know our health care system & shortcomings
  • Quarantine Centre @Thangmeiband: Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 14 May : Govt of Manipur
  • The Princess & The Political Agent : Preview
  • Self-Sufficiency: A Shibboleth ?
  • Running business not just to survive lockdown
  • A Symphony on Spring :: Poem
  • 'No concrete roadmap by Nagaland govt'
  • Coronavirus, lockdown, stranded people
  • Unattended struggle of Phige Weavers
  • Covid-19 Status 13 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2020 #2: Gallery
  • Relief exchange- Moidangpok & Keikao, Tml
  • Unheeded Balance :: Poem
  • Arsenal's new home
  • Getting ready for lockdown 4.0
  • Preparing for the shifting battle line
  • Barak River, Tamenglong #1 :: Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 12 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Bishnupur Dist. Orders / Memo [May 12]
  • Vaccination of cattle at Khumbong
  • Bus for Stranded Manipuris in Guwahati
  • Startups in the time of corona crisis
  • Naming children after pandemic
  • Growing number of infected
  • Adversity to opportunity
  • The Princess & the Political Agent : eBook
  • Covid-19 Status 11 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Huishu village, Chingai, Ukhrul Dist. : Gallery
  • Nurse unite to demand universal public health
  • Transport of stranded students from Shillong
  • Of kombirei and daffodil
  • Impact of lockdown on economy of Manipur
  • Opening the doors amid the lockdown
  • Preparing for the inevitable future
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Quarantine Centre @Kwakeithel : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 10 May : Govt of Manipur
  • SOP : Returning by Train to Manipur
  • Foreign Nationals stranded in Northeast
  • The International Mother's Day 2020
  • Lonely Days at Home :: Poem
  • Keep helping the poor amid COVID-19
  • From chinky to coronavirus
  • Rajkumari Muktasana : Dance Artiste
  • Covid-19 Status 09 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Impact on children during lockdown
  • Movement Pass Register - Resident Govt
  • Mother, The Giver ! :: Poem
  • Improving English during lockdown
  • Nagaland Govt to bring back stranded citizen
  • Road to unity
  • Paoki Fest @ Purul, Senapati: Gallery
  • Taja mgidi ya_Aodbr :: Seireng
  • A view on soccer training
  • Covid-19 Status 08 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Wetlands of Manipur : Documentary Film
  • Contribution of AR in Empowerment of women
  • Understanding stranded persons
  • nuHsi K_waHceY :: Seireng
  • Covid-19 Status 07 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Vagabond :: Poem
  • Best materials for homemade mask
  • E-Learning during COVID-19 Lockdown
  • Our careers and COVID-19
  • Need to expand commercial centres
  • Normalizing the act of humanism
  • Landscape to Dzukou Valley #4 : Gallery
  • Covid-19 Status 06 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Our part in the coronavirus lockdown
  • Quick nutrition garden during COVID-19
  • Lockdown Order from 6 May: Manipur Govt
  • Relief material to families at Keibul Lamjao
  • What to foresee from a Free Haircut ?
  • May 6, 2020 : Yet another day of drama
  • For Manipur, it is not COVID-19 alone
  • Luira Phanit @Kamjong #2 : Gallery
  • Distribution @Benguluru -2 May : Gallery
  • Manipur Looks Flat - Hingminnasi Eikhoi
  • MK Binodini Book Reading : Gallery
  • Europe zooms MK Binodini Devi's Literature
  • Why not carve out a future in Chakhao #2
  • Bangladeshki Sana Tampha #2 :: eRang
  • Thang Ta - Sangai Fest 2018 #2 : Gallery
  • Pallel & Kakching Keithel : Gallery
  • Tangkhul Forum vegetable for valley: Gallery
  • Items distributed to Tarao -Apr 23 #2: Gallery
  • Covid-19: Impact in Manipur :: Photos/News..
  • Language affinity betn Meiteis & Tangkhuls
  • Helpline Number for Students/ people from NE