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By Oxfam India
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Freedom Of Speech

Indian Constitution defines the right to freedom of speech and expression as fundamental. It, however, is not absolute.

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Freedom Of Speech
Freedom Of Speech

Indian Constitution defines the right to freedom of speech and expression as fundamental. It, however, is not absolute. Article 19 of India’s constitution guarantees the right "to freedom of speech and expression." However, the constitution also allows the government to limit freedom of expression "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."

There is a sense of shrinking liberty in the subcontinent, reported The India Freedom Report 2017, which examines media freedom and freedom of expression in India, published by The Hoot. In 2017, eleven journalists were killed in the line of duty in India. Last year, Reporters Without Borders issued a warning to India in 2018 on the country’s deteriorating press freedom. India fell to the 138th position on the World Press Freedom Index in 2018. Apart from being attacked and prevented from reporting, journalists have also been arrested and charged with sedition cases in India.

Apart from press freedom, there have been reported cases where activists and intellectuals have been punished for speaking against the authority. Charges of sedition have multiplied as a way to curb free speech and to intimidate government critics. India’s Crime Records Bureau recorded 47 cases of alleged sedition in nine Indian states in 2014. A folk singer, students cheering at a cricket game, and the author Arundhati Roy are just some who have been charged with sedition.

Renowned voices that stood for corporate accountability were brutality trampled for highlighting corporate-political nexus. While the impunity with which the businesses carry on went mostly unquestioned, Corporate India was seen shrugging off social responsibility in several cases.

Relevant Law/Act: Article 19 (1)(A) Freedom of Speech and Expression