Media’s right to speech and expression & its limitations


Freedom to speech and expression is the constitutional right which comes under the article 19 1(a) of Indian constitution. Freedom of speech and expression is the fundamental right of the citizens under part 3rd of the Indian constitution which means that it is a most important right of the citizen and it is essential for a democratic society.

The media have special right to speech and expression of their opinions and ideas, the information separated by media is related to public interest which create a matter for debate. View of giving information is in simple and clear manner .The media have obligation to discover the true information among the society or people


In olden time media plays an important role all over the world. Their work is to gather news or information and deliver that among the people. In historical time, the very first spread of information is through newspaper. First newspaper was printed in America in 1721, and printed by the James Franklin, the paper “new englant courant”, it discussed about political works and literacy works.

After newspaper, another process was introduced that is internet, internet provide the news and other information which consumer want to get, they get it through internet easily from anywhere. News channels are important and easy source of collecting the information related to public.

Many politicians often take benefits from media and use them for making new policies as per the situation.


In article 19(1)(a), right to speech and expression is that view and opinions of any one or any issue related to some matter spread by any method like by mouth, in written form, printing film etc. but the right has some restriction to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state, relations with foreign countries, against the public order, contempt of court, defamation, any other offence.

Freedom of press means the communication and distribution of the views and opinions through the vehicle of electronic media by print media and any communication channel eg. radio, television with rules and regulations. In case of Indian express v. union of India (1985) 1 sec 641, it has been held that the press play a significant role in the democratic machinery. “The court has the duty to uphold the freedom of press and invalidate all laws and administrative action that abridge the freedom”. Freedom of press includes freedom of a publication, freedom to circulate and freedom against pre censorship.

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The freedom of the press implicit in the fundamental right “freedom of speech and expression” and it is essential for political liberty and proper functioning of democracy.  The American press commission said that “freedom of press is essential function of the political liberty”. “If a man cannot freely convey their thoughts to another one, no freedom will be secured, where the freedom of expression exists. It means that a free and democratic society, and every retention of liberty are already present, free-expression is therefore liberty among them”.

In case of Indian press, commission has also given the similar view, it says that the democracy cannot be vigilant only under eye of legislature, but also under the care and guidance of public opinion and press in par excellence. In Indian constitution, article 19(1)(a) does not specifically mention liberty of press in freedom to speech and expression but India includes the liberty of press in freedom to speech and expression.  “The press has no special rights which are not given, or which are not to perform by the citizen or done by individual capacity. Only the editor of a press or the manager is merely exercising the right to expression include press and therefore, no special mention is necessary for the freedom of the press”. The freedom of press is not restricted to newspapers and periodicals. It also includes pamphlets and circulars and other every type publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.


 In case of printers ltd v. asstt. Commercial tax officer the supreme court held that no sales tax can be implicit on sale of newspapers all over the country. However the court clarified this does not mean press is immune either from taxation or from general law relating to industrial relations or from state regulations of condition of service of its employees. The prohibition to imposition of any restrictions on disseminate of information and to circulation of newspaper. The newspaper does not give only survey news but provides all the knowledge, ideas, opinions and other things. Freedom to speech and expression could not be restricted for purpose of commercial aspect of the activities of the newspaper.

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In case of Mohammed Ajmal mohammand amir kasab aliasn ABU mujahaid v. state of Maharashtra, the supreme court observed that although by way of obiter, which regarding the role of the media in live electronic coverage of terrorists attack on Taj hotel, hotel Oberoi and nariman house and it shown on TV screens stated. The terrorists attacks at all the places, all the detail were shown live on Indian TV from the starting to end without any interruption, almost all the channel were practice to give minute to minute latest coverage of news. The position of the security base forces or their arms and all their secrete mission was watched by collaborators across border on TV window and being able to communicate to the criminal person.

The attempt to justify the conduct of TV channels by the right to freedom of speech and expression are totally misconduct/ wrong and unsatisfied in such condition, the freedom of speech and expression is mention under article 19 which include some restrictions for right to expression and violated the article 21 of putting right to privacy and maintain the national security of jeopardy.


Social media is also a source of collecting and getting the information. Now a days, there are many sources like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, twitter etc. to gather information and updated news. Many news channels use the online platforms like facebook and developed their separate apps to deliver news to public in easy, simple, time saving and economical manner.

Media Limitation of speech and expression

Media’s freedom to speech and expression have some sort of restriction which under article 19(2)(a) of the constitution, this right is not for the citizens right to publishing on any matter. This type of work is given to some people who are in capacity to do this type of work. They also get the specified license to do that. The id have some restrictions which are beneficial for all countrymen to maintain

1) respect of the other one’s reputation rights

2) to protect the national security, public order, public health.

On the point of article of 19 (2) of the constitution of India, the legislature enact the law for restriction on right to speech and expression on following conditions-

  • Sovereignty and integrity of the India:- right to speech and expression were restricted to challenge the sovereignty and integrity by any one and not preach cession of any part of India from the union.
  • Security of the state:-  the acts which is indirectly bring about an overthrow of the state would come within the expression. An incitement to an armed revolution by the in fructuous and ultimately it is enough to attract the term state security.
  • Friendly relation with foreign states:- this provision aims to prohibit unrestrained malicious propaganda against a foreign friendly state which may jeoparadise the maintenance of good relations between the country and the other state.
  • Public order:- media has no right to publication or express the public order which for interest to public
  • Contempt of court:- there is fair limit to contempt of court, not to go beyond the restriction it is two of types – civil and criminal. In civil contempt, the disobedience of the judgement or order and in criminal contempt by mean of publication that is word spoken, written etc.
  • Defamation:- it is criminal act which place in IPC section 499, it is not allowed in right to speech and expression to defame anyone.
  • Incitement of an offence:-speech and expression does consists of any type of crime to be done, it does not mention any where so, it is restricted to omit or commit any offence

Such restrictions are enact and enforceable in the court for getting the justice.


So, Media have the powerful right to speech and expression and it is an important tool for many purposes of interaction, communication etc by way of words, written, spoken, listen, picture etc media gives details all over the world. It is the first source to get the information relating to any matter. But there is restriction which is mentioned above, the right given by the constitution article 19 which every one has right to information. Media is developing day by day by adopting new technologies developed by the research and development department of the country.

Author: Manish Kumar,
Delhi Metropolitan Education( Affiliated to GGSIPU) 2nd year (BALLB)

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