The Relation Between Freedom Of Press And The Indian Legislative Provisions
Updated: Jun 18
“To struggle against censorship, whatever its nature, and whatever the power under which it exists, is my duty as a writer, as a call for freedom of the press.” - Mikhail Bulgakov
The requirement to study Freedom of Press different from Freedom of Expression
Journalism is regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy, the other three are the legislature, executive and judiciary. Freedom of Press is seen as a substructure of a democratic society. A free exchange of ideas, the free exchange of knowledge and details, debating and expression of views different from one another is significant for the smooth functioning of democracy. This will empower people to make well-informed decisions. Most importantly, only when there is a swirling of different thoughts and information, people will be able to utilize their rights as a means of questioning the decisions and policies of the government. Such an environment can be created only when there is Freedom of Press. Journalism which was earlier limited only to press now involves even the electronic media. Freedom of press involves freedom of writing, printing, drawing, pictures, film, movie, word of mouth etc. It includes within its ambit the freedom of communication & the right to express one’s opinion.
Prior to independence, Indian Press had faced several restrictions. Acts like the Indian Press Act, 1910 & Indian Press (Emergency) Act, 1931 resulted in blatant violation of the freedom of Press. At the time of the Second World War, the conditions became worse and post-independence, there were fundamental changes in the outlook towards freedom of Press.
Legal provisions, various acts and the Constitution take upon the obligation to protect the freedom of Press. In India, freedom of Press is not expressly preserved by the Indian legal system but it is impliedly guarded under the Constitution, which iterates - All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, since no freedom can be absolute, even the right to freedom of Press is also subject to reasonable restrictions. It faces certain restrictions under Article 19(2), which are as follows- “Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law 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 or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.”
The Whistle-Blowers Protection Act, 2014 bestows a mechanism to investigate alleged corruption and misuse of power by the public servants and officials. It focuses on guarding anyone who exposes alleged wrongdoing in government bodies, projects and organisations. The wrongdoing involves fraud, corruption or mismanagement. This act indirectly guards’ journalists practising ‘investigative journalism’.
Maharashtra was the first and the only state to bring up a bill to safeguard the journalists. The Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, of 2017 states that "any incident of violence against media personnel or damage or loss of property of media officials or media institutions is punishable under the said act."
The Relation Between Freedom of Press and Right to Privacy
The right to privacy emerges from natural rights, which are basic, intrinsic and inalienable rights. Article 21 which talks about the Right to life and guarantees the Right to privacy impliedly. Media has traversed its limits of fair reporting, specifically in cases sub-judice.
Giving due regards to the fact that there is an abuse of freedom of Press is important as it cannot be rejected that freedom of Press is the inalienable part of the smooth functioning of democracy. It is the obligation of the government as well as journalists to guard the freedom of Press. There is a requirement to come up with more legislative provisions and protective mechanisms that focus on the attainment of the freedom of Press.
“Oil may run out, liquidity may dry up, but as long as the ink flows freely, the next chapter of Life will continue to be written."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amol Verma, is currently studying Law at CNLU, Patna.
You can contact them at- https://www.linkedin.com/in/amol-verma-34606117a/
Editor: Jayant Upadhyay
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