“Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression” is a fundamental right of the citizens of India. This is mentioned in Part III of the Constitution of India – Article 19(1).
This Article is so wide in scope that Freedom of the Press is included in Freedom of Speech and Expression. It includes the right of free propagation and free circulation without any previous restraint on publication.
The freedom of speech and expression does not give right to every possible use of language. It would lead to disorder and anarchy.
The Article 19(2) of the Constitution imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
The security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency of morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense. Whenever, emergency is declared in a country, these rights remain suspended.
All our governments have preferred press freedom to be linked with social and fundamental responsibilities and the obligation to report objectively.
Taking into consideration the constraints of the Indian model of democracy and socialism and the objectives laid in the Preamble of the Constitution or its Directive Principles of the State Policy, the second Press Commission has advocated that the press should be neither an adversary nor an ally of the Government, but a constructive critic.
The press is a great social asset, for it has to serve the entire community of varying minds with its raw material for though, as also to act as a watch-dog by exercising its role to warn and curb forces of repression, corruption and divisiveness.
The freedom of press is the mother of all other freedoms. This freedom can be used to create a brave new world or to bring about universal catastrophe. (Malhan : 110).
There are media laws which curtail press freedom and the right of the citizen to information, as well as right to freedom of speech and expression, besides the restrictions imposed by constitution. Press freedom can be weighed from two sides.
1. The external and internal pressures such as interference by political and business leaders, pressure from advertisers, physical attacks on the press people, and so on.
2. Various media laws, such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, The Copy Right Act, 1957, impose restrictions on the exercise of the right of freedom of speech and expression by the press.
The second Press Commission has suggested certain amendments in the existing press laws to expand the scope of press freedom and at the same time to project the right to privacy of the individual and prevent newspapers from indulging into free style of character assassination.