Protection of press and media professionals under Article 19
Right to Freedom of speech and expression is absolutely necessary for the democratic way of living. It is the foundation of all the democratic organizations which is very important for the proper functioning of the government. Article 19 of the constitution of India ensures freedom of speech and expression as one of the fundamental rights and Article 19(1) (a) states – All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which means right to express one’s views and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode with some limitations imposed under Article 19(2) which empowers the state to put reasonable restrictions on the following grounds i.e. security of the state, friendly relations with the foreign nation , public order, decency and morality, contempt of court , defamation, incitement to offence and integrity and sovereignty of India. Freedom of speech and expression has four broad special objectives to perform – (1) individual’s achievement of something desired (2) helps in the discovery of truth (3) maintain balance between stability and social change (4) participation in decision making.
The Publicity is the very inspiration behind the fulfillment of justice. The beginning of the free society will be visible when there is care and guidance of public opinion and the par excellence of the press. The American press Commission has also said, “Freedom of the press is essential to political liberty. Open exchange of information, discussions, sopinions and public debate is important for the smooth functioning of the government. That why the press as a powerful mode of mass communication is essential to counter democracy and to influence public opinion. Media and journalism holds the power to tell every social, economic and political change to the society and to influence thinking, belief and behaviour of the citizens. Every human being should be socially aware of the happenings in the world and for its success, press and media holds the key by being the connection between citizenry of voters and the government. The protection of media and press has entitled them to keep an eye on the actions of the government and keep them on their toes to do better for the country.
The freedom of the press is not specifically mentioned in the Article 19(1) (a) of the constitution of India but it has been held in the case of Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi that the, “freedom of the press is an essential part of the right to freedom of speech and expression”. And in the case of Romesh Thaper v. State of madras that the, “Freedom of the speech and of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organizations, for without free political discussion no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the process of popular government if possible”.
Threats to the protection and freedom of press and media
The freedom of press and media is denoted by the general working of the Right of freedom of speech and expression. But this working have been facing serious danger and threats regularly in India. It will have been becoming difficult to bring information and reality to the public. This has put a risk to the life of the people. The job of journalists and media persons is important and critical in a democratic country. But instead of their protection and freedom there is a culture of bullying, threatening, abusing and killing of the professionals in India which is now reflected into a troubling atmosphere. There are various events in India which had witnessed major threat to the freedom of press and media persons like – violent attacks on media followed by the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Singh. More than a dozen journalists were harassed or physically attacked while covering riots that broke out in northeast Delhi in late February 2020.
The manifestation and intolerance of dissenting journalists are sometimes follow in censorship and physical intimidation. The speech and expressions of the journalism as a profession are often results in cyber bullying and sometimes their assassination were also follow as well. The murders of several journalists were also affected over the last few years in India like the cold-blooded murder of Gauri Lankesh, the editor of Lankesh patrike in the city of Bengaluru in 2017. Journalist Santanu bhowmik was murdered in Tripura while on duty covering an agitation by the Indigenous people’s front of Tripura in 2017 etc. There were 48 journalist who were being killed between the period of 1992 and 2018 as per the report by the committee to protect journalists (CPJ). These sufferings are also evident from the country’s low rank in Global press freedom index which has now dropped to 142 out of 180 countries in the annual ‘reporters without borders’. India is country of more than 1.3 billion population with democratic form of government and the freedom of press under article 19(1) (a) can’t be denied because it is known as the fourth branch of the government.
First state with a law to protect journalists in India
To ensure the protection of journalists and press, Maharashtra media persons and media institutions (prevention of violence and damage or loss to property Act), 2017 was passed by the Maharashtra government and was first published after receiving the assent of the president in the “Maharashtra government gazette” on the 8th November 2019. This was the first law passed in any state for the prevention of violence against media persons while carrying out their duty and prevention of damage of property of media persons. Any persons who commits or attempts to commit this type of act will be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with both. Act of violence against media persons will be treated as cognizable, non-bailable and case under this law will be investigated by an officer not below the rank of DySP/ACP.
The spirit of press and media is defined by the article 19(1) (a) of the Indian constitution. The honest and civilized society tell us how smoothly the system is running. Despite of these difficulties as mentioned above, press and media has also achieved lot of success in India like if we talk about Jessica lal’s case in which the case was reopened by press and public voices. In Arushi Talwar’s murder case, the media played an important role by highlighting the loopholes in the case. But sometimes they need to be responsible and honest. There should not be any collaborations with political parties which results in wrong use of the right and should work in hand-in-hand with judiciary.
Author: Raman Saxena,
Delhi metropolitan education affiliated to GGSIPU ( 2nd year)