A Supreme Court judge had said in a workshop that criticism of executive, judiciary and bureaucracy cannot be called sedition.
Every Indian as a citizen has the right to criticize the government and such criticism cannot be defined as sedition. If criticism is defined as sedition, India’s democracy will be transformed into a police state. After nearly 21 months of national emergency, the self was freed from jail. It is reflected from the following statement of Pt. Atal Bihari Vajpayee the importance of expression in a democracy-
“After a long time have met lovers,
There are many rumours to say and hear,
Take a breath in the open air,
Who knows how long freedom will last?
The extent of freedom of expression has always been a matter of controversy. Recently, there was a controversy in France over a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad and many Muslim countries including Pakistan protested against it. There have also been some attacks in France over cartoon making. Three people were killed in an attack on the church in Nous, and French President Emmanuel Macron said cartoons can hurt but violence is not acceptable. Famous poet Munawwar Rana had expressed his support for this attack, for which he was being criticized on social media. He also received a response on social media by some lines of Javed Akhtar-
“Soft words, good words, pleasant accents,
In the first rain, these colours come off…”
If seen, sometimes there is talk of freedom of expression and human rights for terrorists too, but there is a difference between freedom and freedom. Human rights and freedom of expression are protected by the Constitution of India, but who protects the Constitution? Why is there no talk of protecting the human rights of those who protect the constitution? What about his freedom of expression? If the death of terrorists is expressed by going to their house, then there is no need to go to the martyr’s house? Are there no human rights of the soldier on whom Kashmiri youths throw stones by taking money from Pakistan? Therefore, it is necessary to determine the limits of human rights and freedom of expression in the national interest.
Freedom of expression has been provided by most of the countries of the world to its citizens, but there are many countries which have kept a distance from it. In this regard, if we talk about the Indian perspective, then freedom of expression is not only a right here but has also been an important feature of Indian civilization and culture, which can be clearly seen in India’s religious texts, literature, novels etc. Talking about the forms of expression, it includes books, painting, dance, drama, film production and currently social media. Similarly, to protect the Indian tradition of free expression from being harmed in any way, it was made a part of the fundamental rights by the makers of the Constitution of India, giving legal validity and freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a). He was given the first place among all types of freedoms.
But the right to freedom of expression is not absolute, there are reasonable restrictions on it. This right can be inhibited in the event of threat to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India, in the event of an adverse effect on foreign relations, in the event of contempt of court. All citizens of India have the freedom to think, give speeches and propagate the views of themselves and others. Press and journalism is also a means of propagation of ideas, therefore freedom of press is also included in Article 19.
The Supreme Court termed the fundamental right to thought and expression as the ‘architecture of the testament of democracy’, because the very foundation of democracy rests upon the courage of dissent and the prudence of consent. Democracy is a modern liberal ideology, whose core ideals include respect for the dignity of the individual, liberty, equality, justice and governance based on the consent of the general public. Therefore, the consensus of the general public means giving importance to dialogue, discussion and discussion, respectfully accepting disagreements with consent and establishing consensus in disagreements through dialogue.
Due to the freedom of expression, there has been a peaceful transfer of the powers of governance under the democratic governance system of India till date. Which made India the largest democratic country in the world and gave it stability.
Freedom of expression in India has been made possible only by the establishment of an independent state here. Through this, people in remote areas of India have also been made aware of their rights received in the democratic system. It has also become a medium for conveying grievances to the government along with the wishes and expectations of public opinion. Due to this, the Government of India has been able to work more people-oriented and the establishment of a welfare state has been possible. It has increased the confidence of the people in the democratic governance system. This is the reason that at present the Indian polity is moving towards the attainment of participatory and active democracy in the form of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Freedom of expression is considered the mother of all rights. It prepares public opinion on social, political and economic issues. In Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, Justice emphasized on freedom of speech and said that democracy is based primarily on dialogue and debate and this is the only proper mechanism to remedy the actions of the government in a democratic country. If democracy means rule of the people, by the people, then it is clear that every citizen has the right to participate in the democratic process and the intellectual right to choose as he pleases requires free thought, discussion and debate on public issues. This has not only strengthened democracy, but also facilitated the development of a market-based economy by providing freedom of rational choice, reducing communication gaps and social tensions in society. Through dialogue, superstitions, social evils and stereotypes have also been attacked and human’s reasoning ability, courage and innovative tendency have been promoted, due to which modernization of India has been possible. Freedom of expression has made the government aware of the anger of the people growing against the administration, which stops anarchy and strengthens democracy.
However, any form of freedom without restriction in its broadest form exhibits negative effects. Freedom of expression when it crosses its limits leads to social anarchy. Freedom of expression is the basic basis of the operation of a democratic system, but a limited amount of logical restrictions have been imposed on it with the aim of protecting the society from anarchy, where both process and content must be logical. The Constitution has imposed restrictions on it on the grounds of public order, security of the nation, friendly relations with foreign states, promotion of crime, morality, contempt of court and defamation.
Recently Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of ‘Republic TV’, was arrested by Mumbai’s Raigad district police for allegedly abetting the suicide of an interior designer in 2018. A trampling step’. During the Emergency in Indian history, there was an attempt by the government to limit the freedom of expression, but in the present time, in the name of protecting their culture for their own benefit, some people have the right to express themselves by opposing films, novels is limited. At the same time, it has also become common for people to misuse the freedom of expression to bring themselves into lime-light and increase their political influence.
In addition, the use of social media by terrorist groups for recruitment and conduct of terrorist activities are problems that have not only challenged the freedom of expression but also made it extremely difficult for the government to deal with it. In the present era Facebook, WhatsApp, social media have given wide scope to the freedom of expression, where people openly express their opinion on every issue, whether it is anti-government or anti-society and anti-conservatism in the matter of gay relations, Due to which the case of murder of some writer, journalist, blogger is coming to the fore every day, which has not only tried to limit the right to expression but has also increased the challenges of the government in stopping such efforts. Gauri Lankesh, an Indian journalist and activist from Bangalore, was assassinated in 2017 for criticizing Hindu extremism.
Democracy and freedom of expression are two sides of the same coin. When any one of these comes under fire, the other is automatically on the verge of extinction, which promotes the establishment of a dictatorship over public opinion. In relation to journalism, it is necessary to strike a balance between rights and responsibility. Similarly, it is also very important to understand the difference between hate speech and freedom of expression. For a strong democracy, along with freedom of expression, it is also necessary to decide its limits. Recognizing the relation of complementarity between these two, there is a need to promote it, so that the nation can move forward on the path of continuous progress, society becomes inclusive and the dignity of the Indian Constitution which is famous for freedom of expression in the world remains intact.