Short essay on Freedom of the Press as specified by Indian Constitution

ADVERTISEMENTS:

There had been much criticism, both within Constituent Assembly and outside, of the omission of a specific reference to freedom of the Press and the failure to guarantee it along with the freedom of speech. The omission was considered a serious lapse on the part of the Drafting Committee by the protagonists of a “Free Press” as a separate right.

Nevertheless, the Drafting Committee did not think it necessary to incorporate a separate right of this nature in the chapter on Fundamental Rights.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Ambedkar said that the Press was merely another way of denoting an individual or a citizen. “The Press has no special rights which are not to be given or which are not to be exercised by the citizen in his individual capacity.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

The editor of a Press or the manager of the Press is all citizens and, therefore, when they choose to write in newspapers, they are merely exercising their right of expression and in my judgement, therefore, no special mention is necessary of the freedom of the Press at all.”

The word “expression” that is used in Article 19 (l) (a) in addition to “speech” is comprehensive enough to cover the Press. In fact, the lack of a specific mention of the Press in the Constitution created no difficulty when the Supreme Court was called upon to protect the freedom of the Press in Romesh Thapar’s case.

Further, modern science and technology have invented and are still inventing and bringing into use many forms of expression through which communication of ideas is facilitated. The radio, the cinema, the telephone and television are a few important examples of these new forms.

Some of these may become in the course of time even more powerful and important media of expression than the Press itself. So, there seems to be no justification to single out any of them or mentioning all of the existing dominant forms in the Constitution.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

As such detailed mention would not serve any purpose which is not served by the word “expression”. Hence the criticism of the Constitution for not including the “Freedom of the Press” as a separate right can hardly be justified.

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