Freedom of expression

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Written by  Published in Opinion Tuesday, 16 June 2020 00:00

 Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression[edit]

According to the estimates of Reporters Without Borders, India ranks 122nd worldwide in 2010 on the press freedom index (down from 105th in 2009). The press freedom index for India is 38.75 in 2010 (29.33 for 2009) on a scale that runs from 0 (most free) to 105 (least free).[37][38] In 2014 India was down ranked to 140th worldwide (score of 40.34 out of 105) but despite this remains one of the best scores in the region.[39]

  1. Indian Constitution, while not mentioning the word "press", provides for "the right to freedom of speech and expression" (Article 19(1) a). However this right is subject to restrictions under subclause (2), whereby this freedom can be restricted for reasons of "sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, preserving decency, preserving morality, in relation to contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to an offence". Laws such as the Official Secrets Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act [40] (POTA) have been used to limit press freedom. Under POTA, person could be detained for up to six months before the police were required to bring charges on allegations for terrorism-related offenses. POTA was repealed in 2004, but was replaced by amendments to UAPA.[41] The Official Secrets Act 1923 is abolished after right to information act 2005

For the first half-century of independence, media control by the state was the major constraint on press freedom. Indira Gandhi famously stated in 1975 that All India Radio is "a Government organ, it is going to remain a Government organ..."[42]

With the liberalisation starting in the 1990s, private control of media has burgeoned, leading to increasing independence and greater scrutiny of government.

Organisations like Tehelka and NDTV have been particularly influential, in bringing about the resignation of powerful Haryana minister Venod Sharma. In addition, laws like Prasar Bharati act passed in recent years contribute significantly to reducing the control of the press by the government.










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