I would like to find out what is freedom of expression its different facets and why it is so debatable and its importance for the citizens. Recently we have observed that how the government becomes uncomfortable whenever tough questions are thrown to them. So such organizations are punished and they are awarded seditious charges which try to set the example. So first let’s understand what is freedom of expression.
Freedom of Expression
Freedom of Expression is enshrined in the fundamental rights of the constitution under Article 19 which comes under the Right to Freedom. Article 19 is about the privilege that the constitution gives to its people in the form of Freedom of Expression.
It is one of the many democratic rights that is given to the citizen of the country. Here people have the right to express his views by several means, for instance, public meetings, protests, painting, writing on newspapers, blogs social media, etc. With the freedom of rights, one can measure the level of democracy. The test of Freedom of Expression is the litmus test of democracy. It is important to observe whether people can speak and able to raise their voices.
Article 19 is divided into 6 parts
Freedom of Speech and Expression
Freedom to assemble
Freedom to form associations, union, cooperative societies.
Freedom to move
Freedom of Residence
Freedom of Profession
You guys can read it in detail here.
Freedom of Expression is also mentioned in the United nations
But I am going to talk about the first three-part and the controversies related to it. Whenever anything is tabled before us it came to us with a lot of virtue and vice together. The same is the case with the Freedom Of Expression So it is often debated whether freedom of expression should be absolute or there must be some restrictions to it. Let’s go with the virtuous part of it. Freedom of Expression is the basic foundation of democracy. The main thing it talks about while discussing the first three segments of Article 19 is dissent.
Freedom of expression will carry any meaning if the dissent is accepted. How the person is going to express that? Through media such as print, electronic, social. Dissent can be expressed through various ways like public meetings and rallies which is also mentioned in Article 19. According to the Supreme Court dissent has its place. https://www.bloombergquint.com/law-and-policy/right-to-dissent-is-essential-to-democracy-criticism-can-t-be-termed-anti-national-sc-judge
I said it in my previous blog about the importance of Opposition here. In a democracy, every voice has a place and every voice must be heard. So if there are people who want to tell you about something that they feel they don’t like it. It is responsible for any democratic government to find out the cause of dissent and try to solve the issue. It is important both parties sit together and have communication and do some negotiations so that it could be win-win situations for both the parties. With communication, one can simply solve the tricky issue, but with an arrogant nature, it cannot be achieved rather the chances are jeopardized.
On the other hand it is said that protesting, rallying etc. creates panic and the law and order situation. But the silent protests cannot be a challenge to the law and order situation. The constitution had also secured the importance of such rallies and meetings. It is because the voice that comes out from here, are the voices of the people.
The recent episodes that are going on are really depressive. Right now it seems that dissent is something that is making the government uncomfortable.
So anyone who does not agree with the administration is being send behind the bars. This is the sheer violation of Article 19.
If someone is uncomfortable with the criticism. It shows the weakness of the character. Also, I personally believe that the weaker must criticize the powerful. Otherwise the powerful will go on uncontrollable.
If the healthy relationship is to make between the government and its citizen it is important that communication happen and dissent is heard too with the full heart and solution is curved out through the communication. But one thing is also important that no one should cross the line. Freedom of Expression comes with a lot of responsibilities. So anything that can tear the fabric of the nation, create communal disharmony cannot be taken as a part of Freedom of Speech.
So the state has the restriction So according to that, it can impose reasonable restrictions on the ground such as sovereignty and integrity and public order including maintenance of traffic.
I would like to end it with the quote of Voltaire.
I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”