TODAY -

Articulating freedom of speech
- Imphal Times Editorial :: May 26 2017 -



As according to Vincent Blasi, the noted law scholar, the most important role of free speech is to “check” government abuses and reveal to the public information that government wants to keep secret from them.

If we follow this theory – which is a specific application of the democracy-centred theory of free speech – the press and the media become the most important organs of a system of free expression.

In addition to the checking value of free speech, there is another consideration that is now acknowledged by Courts in most jurisdictions, including our Supreme Court.

When we speak about the “right” to free speech, we do not just mean – as might seem at first glance – the right of speakers to speak unhindered. We also mean the rights of listeners and hearers to receive information.

A classic example is the Indian Supreme Court’s opinion in LIC v. Manubhai D. Shah, which used Article 19(1)(a) to vest a right-of-reply in a person who had been criticised in a newspaper editorial, on the ground of providing a balanced account to readers.

Furthermore, instruments like the ICCPR and the ECHR make this clear in the text of the free speech right as well. For instance, Article 19 of the ICCPR states that ”everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.”

If free speech is about the right to receive information, and about the public good of a society in which information circulates freely and widely, then the vehicles of information occupy a central position in any theory or doctrine about the scope of the constitutional right.

Every law makers, bureaucrats or the guardian of the law should understand that the press is perhaps the most important of those vehicles.

Establishing the crucial role of the free press in free speech theory is important to understand a crucial issue that has largely gone unaddressed in Indian constitutional and statutory law: that of source-protection laws for journalists.

A source-protection law exempts journalists from having to compulsorily reveal their sources when ordered to do so by government or by courts.

This write up is being addressed to our so call Police officers, intelligent agency and others in the government.

There is no logical meaning on why a journalist which is serving the society by publishing news which the government will never able to do so have been often harassed.

Recently NIA called on editors of some few media houses and forced them to produce all related documents sent by a particular outfit.

There is no problem in helping them but when such an act disturb the hectic schedule of journalists particularly editors, one wander where is that freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution of India.

Let’s give freedom of speech a chance.



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