The Supreme Court has temporarily suspended the Kerala High Court’s order against activist Rehana Fathima, which restricted her from using visual or electronic media to publish, share, or circulate any material or comments.
What does the right to freedom of speech and expression mean?
Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution gives all citizens the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. This means that every citizen has the right to express their own beliefs and opinions freely through writing, printing, pictures, word of mouth (orally) or any other mode.
This right includes:
- the freedom of the press
- the right to communicate and circulate information through any medium including print media, audio, television broadcast or electronic media
- the right to receive and access information which helps in forming an informed opinion
Can the government restrict free speech and expression?
Yes, the government can impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression to protect:
- Sovereignty and integrity of India
- Security of the country
- Friendly relations with foreign countries
- Public order, decency, or morality
- Against contempt of court, defamation, or instigation of any offence.
Why is the freedom of speech and expression important?
The Supreme Court has upheld the importance of the freedom of speech and expression because it gives citizens the right to freely propagate and circulate ideas. This right also facilitates artistic and scholarly endeavours by protecting the right to communicate.
This right also protects the press from interference by authorities with regard to the content, publication and circulation of newspapers.
For ensuring the right to free speech of citizens, it is necessary that the citizens have the benefit of plurality of views and a range of opinions on all public issues. The right to receive and impart information ensures that citizens have access to a diversity of opinions, views, ideas and ideologies which enables them to make informed judgments on all issues concerning them