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This article is written by Sumedha Bhat, from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur. It is a detailed and exhaustive article on the effects and consequences of censorship of the press. It almost covers all the aspects of free speech and censorship nowadays. 


Contents that are or may be unpleasant for public viewing, censorship controls such contents. Basically, in order to maintain peace among the general public, it hampers the affluence of information and ideas, so the content of such information or ideas does not contravene public sentiments. ‘Censere’ is the latin word from which the word ‘censorship’ has been derived. It means to measure, assets, be of opinion, rate.

Webster dictionary

Censorship is an act of suppression of speech or writing perceived to be detrimental to the public good.

Oxford dictionary 

‘An individual who reviews books, movies, news, etc., that are to be released and suppresses any sections that have been deemed pornographic, politically offensive, or a security threat’.

Jean Jacques Pauvert had highlighted that “Censorship is also one of those simple terms that are commonly recognized because it helps people to look the same as everybody else these days, with a bit of fuss, pleasant and correct-thinking. The Mainstream, the Conservative, and the Core all accept that anti-censorship, anti-discrimination, anti-war, pro-human rights, or freedom of speech has to be one”.

Censorship may well be levied by local or national governmental authority, by only a religious organisation, or occasionally by a potent private organization. It can be implemented to the communications mails, speech, press, theatre, dance, art, literature, photography, cinema, radio, television, or computer and smartphone. Censorship could be either curative or inhumane, depending as to whether the expression is exercised beforehand or after it has been made public. The practise has also been especially thorough in use since antiquity under autocratic and heavily centralised politicians, from the Roman empire to the 20th century totalitarian states. 

Historical aspect

  1. There were many Acts enacted during the rule of the British empire over the Indian press as strict bollards. The press was ferociously and actively engaged in trying to rally the masses before the rumors swirling of the 1857 rebellion, and invariably, the British government became extremely anxious more about press freedom. 
  2. Lord Lytton enacted the Gagging Act, which was aimed at curtailing and controlling the content of Indian publications. The Act forced all Indian publications to apply for a government license while also making sure that nothing was written against all the British government, nor was the government in any way threatened. The Press was unaffected by the “Gagging Act”, making its way across news dissemination. This pressed the government to develop far more rigorous policies. No English-language media outlets were subject to this Act. Amrita Bazar Patrika, a multicultural, evolved to the circumstances and then became only an English weekly, continuing to play a crucial part in the growth of Indian investigative journalism, rooting her interests in the fight for independence. It was intense, aggressive, and enthralling from a political point of view.
  3. The Nationalist movement was gaining traction in the 1880s, and that provided the Indian Press a powerful drive. Eventually, the government was suspicious of the press, so enacted many laws to regulate it and curb political issues. Four new laws introduce around 1908-191, following the creation of the Indian National Congress, which include the Newspapers (Incitement to Offences) Act of 1908, the Press Act of 1910, the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act of 1911, and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. The 1910 Press Act, struck hard on Indian journals. Four new laws introduce around 1908-1901, following the creation of the Indian National Congress, which includes the Newspapers (Incitement to Offences) Act of 1908, the Press Act of 1910, the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act of 1911, and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. The 1910 Press Act struck hard on Indian journals. In a memo on the application of the Press Act of 1910, the Press Association of India discovered that approximately 1,000 articles were on the bottom of prosecution under the Act. 
  4. The friction between the press and the government mounted steadily. 
  5. The 1931 Press Emergency Act further increased tension. He was using the press to promote his sentiments throughout Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha and mobilize the people to demonstrate against the British. In 1930, following Gandhi’s arrest the Press Emergency Act of 1931 was strongly implemented just after Salt Satyagraha that he initiated. 
  6. In September 1939, the start of the Second World War caused even more severe murmurings inside the press. So when the British government drew India into the conflict, it ignited a Congress Party revolt. It lashed out towards the Indian Press – while the 1931 Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act was already in force, the government was requesting strict censorship. It monitored and manipulated foreign news which was coming in, and intentionally generated, systematically propaganda-rooted news. 
  7. Fearing the peril to free speech, the growing threat of newspaper editors was to facilitate the safeguarding of press rights. The All-India Newspapers Editors’ Conference, formulated to act as a guardian of press freedom, arose in the wake of this. Even so, the government has started to clamp down, making sure pre-censorship on editorials such as the Amrita Bazar Patrika, especially as it published on the famine in Bengal. An even more newspaper, Hitavada (established in 1911), was decided to ask to disclose the name from one of its journalists, whereas the government raided the headquarters of the Hindustan Times unexpectedly. During the eruption of WW2, according to the Protection of India Act, the Government of India equipped itself with the pre-censorship control of content released in the Press on certain subjects. The term of imprisonment has been increased to five years; the Official Secrets Act has been amended and provides for a statutory punishment of death or transportation for exposure of knowledge expected to be used against the enemy. The Press Emergency Powers Act also was modified in a similar way.
  8. Organized by Congress, the Quit India Movement (1942) asked the press not to disclose any information related to the party. Eventually, the All-India Newspaper Editors’ Committee– the guardian of the protection of the Indian Press– gave the government a word of trust that the newspapers would exercise vigilance and happily refrain from publishing details about the Quit India Movement. Leaders circulated news via clandestine radio transmissions, and provided information unlawfully via cyclostyled media-sheets. Mostly on walls, messages were often communicated and graffitied; tunnel publications started working at the same time. As the movement turned violent, the government was in pressure to quiet any opposition. It found thousands of rebels. Eventually, a temporary government was set up in September 1946, that would aid in the transition of authority from the British, and also help in the freedom of both India and Pakistan. At this same time, the British government would have to relinquish its powers, which mainly managed and restricted press freedom. 

Laws governing censorship of the press in India

Laws must amend or repealed to reconcile it towards international norms and the treaty obligations of India. These laws were misused, in many cases, in violation of decisions or advisories from the Supreme Court that clarified their reach. The Supreme Court, for instance, held in 1962 that speech or behavior only constitutes sedition if it invokes or appears to cause disorder or violence. Yet, even though the requirement is not met, different state governments continue to threaten individuals with sedition.

  • The sedition law

  • The law on sedition, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), provides for maximum penalty of life in gaol. It forbids any signs, visual representations, or phrases, whether written or spoken, that may make the government to “hate or despise, or excite or try to energise disillusionment”. 
  • This terminology is ambiguous and vague and breaches the obligations of India under international law, which forbids limitations on freedom of speech for purposes of national security unless they have been specifically construed and appropriate and proportionate to deal with a valid threat.
  • Criminal defamation 

  • Criminal defamation, under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is specified in Section 499. It states that whoever makes or publishes any intimation towards any person seeking to injure, or knowingly, or having cause to believe that certain intimation would harm the image of that person, by words whether spoken or meant to be read or by symbols, or by noticeable representations, is said to malign (defame) that person, except in the cases anticipated below.
  • The right to free speech is a basic guaranteed right by our Constitution, but that right is not unconditional, and that right is limited. The defamation offense is a type of that restraint on the basic right. For any other individual, a person does not talk or publish any offensive remarks.
  • Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000

  • Social media regulatory regulations, such as the Information Technology Act of India, can and can quickly become instruments to criminalize speech, mostly to protect influential political figures. Section 66A of that act, which criminalizes a wide spectrum of speech, has been frequently used to detain and censor material for those who criticize the authorities.

India has even other laws criminalising freedom of expression. Although the list below is not exhaustive, it provides an overview of a number of such laws, reviewing how they comply with international standards as well as the commitments of India under international law, how they’re being abused, and what improvements are necessary to bring them under compliance with international trends.

  • Criminal abuse

  • The Indian Penal Code’s Section 506 mentions that the punishment for criminal coercion is a fine, or up to two years in prison, or both. In general, the crime of coercion includes the threat of force or harm to persons or property both as a way of coercing the people to commit actions that he or she would otherwise not conduct.
  • However, Section 503 is not restricted to harassment in the judicial domain. Also, it criminalizes, with very general terms, speech. Rather than restricting the ban on speech that, as is usually the case, threatens to harm people or property, the law also penalizes speech that affects reputation damage. The description found in the penal code itself illustrates the scope of the limitation on speech, stating that a threat to tarnish the reputation or integrity of a deceased individual can entail criminal coercion.
  • Defense of “Public Silence”

  • Section 505(1)(b) of the Indian Penal Code specifies a punishment of up to 3 years’ imprisonment for any individual who ‘makes, spreads or publishes any argument, rumor or article… to inflict or that is likely to cause, panic, or fear to the citizen or any part of the society by that any person may be persuaded to commit a crime against the State or social tranquility’.
  • Criminalizing or prohibiting speech can not be justified as “essential” in a democratic society, not just because it urges illegal action but merely because it is likely to disturb others, probably forcing them to disrupt law and order. While trying to protect law and order, it can in effect allow those who differ with a speaker to cause social unrest to launch the speaker’s criminal investigations. Such that, this might easily become a weapon for those trying to use a “veto against hecklers” against others with whom they differ.
  • Section 505(1)(b) even fails to satisfy the condition that every speech restriction should be developed with sufficient specificity to allow a person to know what speech will violate the law.
  • Contempt of court

  • The Contempt of Courts Act not only criminalizes speech that stereotypes or disrupts with the due time of any court hearings, or interferes with or hinders the course of justice. It also criminalizes speech that “tends” to do some of these things. This term leaves broad latitude for judges to render their arbitrary judgments as to whether speech has an “inclination” to bias, intervene, or disturb, which generates confusion about the nature of the legislation.
  • Section 69A of IT ACT, 2000: website blocking

  • Section 69A of the IT Act authorises the blocking of material on the web ‘in the interests of India ‘s sovereignty and dignity, the protection of India, the security of the nation, friendly ties with foreign countries or social stability’ or the prevention of inciting hatred to commit offences which threaten those concerns.

Freedom of speech and expression

Since traditional antiquity, censorship has originated as a result of persistent interaction. However, the printing press invention made it possible to easily reproduce the text in large quantities becoming considerably more useful in the current modern era.  Originally, it was the church that enforced censorship, but the institutions in society soon got involved in it too.

In the 17th century, in England, where significant achievement was accomplished as early as 1695, the advert against censorship and that for press freedom began. But on the other hand, freedom of the press wasn’t accomplished in France and Germany till (considerably) afterward. Outcries have been consistently accompanied by partial advances. The emerging new media (film, radio, and television) too were subjected to censorship and preventative methods throughout the 20th century, and contemporary authoritarian governments were involved in the tremendous suppression of freedom of speech in such media. Censorship has mostly been used during European history as a form of power, cultural and political control inside the state, but has also been often used to prevent the cross border exchange of information and theories considered unwelcomed. But on the other hand, freedom of the press opened the doors for such a transfer. However, an anomaly emerged throughout this respect for a considerable time, state officials allowed political publications to report on activities abroad (even these reports constituted a significant part of information), and solely as they diverted from internal political situations.

Free expression and censorship

Today, censorship is practiced by quite a host of individuals and institutions outside the scope of the law. We firmly condemn any unconstitutional Internet censorship on the part of the government and non-state actors. There is a range of provisions in the Indian judicial system which restrict free speech. Some-such as the former Section 66A are regulations expressly intended to restrict speech online. We reject ambiguous, moderate-specific laws that have a chilling impact on debate online. 

Other regulations make speech a criminal offense. Several such legislation is incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Special Rapporteur’s Reports on Free Speech as well as many other records of human rights law that tie India. Our racial hatred rules, the defamation penal clause, call for immediate change.

Karl Marx’s views on censorship and press freedom

In Germany, during 1843 and 1849, in his distinguished tenure as editor of the Rheinische Zeitung and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne, Karl Marx answered questions of communication and expression with extraordinary consistency and strength. His desire for democracy and the revelation of facts were the cornerstones of resilience to official initiatives to distort the definition of freedom as a licence to operate and to claim that perhaps the truth is subjective and ascertainable by government. Marx describes editorial practises with free expression which pertain to working journalists as either an individual or group of people right regulating ties among both reporters and public and private officials, along with the proprietors of the press itself, free press, on the other hand, as an economic consideration, is a highly skilled requirement for intellectual labour. His proposals provide concrete solutions to ongoing discourse on press freedom and the prevailing conditions of journalism: maintaining democracy requires freedom of speech and preservation of the public domain, including the media, especially from forms of censorship arising from the exploitation of intellectual labour from those who own or control the media.

The Broken Pillar of India ‘s democracy: press freedom

Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India grants us the basic human right of expression and speech. 40 years ago in the Lok Sabha, former Minister of Information and Broadcasting, L K Advani clearly and unequivocally stated that “the government doesn’t believe in either press control, passive or exclusive, coarse or discreet“. The main duty of his ministry, after the enforcement of the Emergency in 1975, was to address the enormous exploitation and harassment of the media.

It gives us freedom, unrestrained by the fear of punishment, to share our thoughts. As for the means of exchange of ideas, the Constitution is silent, but it requires the right to publicly view a piece of art, like motion movies. Nevertheless, this right is not universal and immune to certain rational limitations where the subject matter on display is so against public policy, international affairs, state sovereignty and dignity, law and order, dignity and morality, or in regard to contempt of court, defamation or admission of an offense as set out in Article 19(2).

But in comparison, the Indian state is undergoing intermittent but strong censorship. There are also examples of being coerced into silent obedience by the free press. The raids by CBI, alleging charges of suspected corruption, against the founders of NDTV, Prannoy and Radhika Roy, are seen as among the most brazen assaults on press freedom. The murder of liberal journalist Gauri Lankesh has too risen as among the country’s biggest divisive and controversial topics.

Press censorship effects on the society

Censorship, commonly understood as coercive state control, has often been viewed as a technically boring subject even though it is a politically critical subject. Censorship requests and also censorship practices come from and are followed in all walks of society. Censorship is then also a joint venture among both the society and government.

If horrible enough, press censorship really can impede a culture. Since the press is such a major part of the daily lifestyle of today’s residents and it is the basis of essentially all the facts, if the information is not provided incomplete or truthfully or concisely then the population is left ignorant or uneducated. 

Censorship can not be survived by any democracy. If there is censorship, then based on fact, each person does not make his/her own choices, but only on the grounds of whatever flows via the lens of the censor, that’s always whoever serves the censoring mechanism and installs it ever deeper into the mind of the public, irrespective of its real authenticity.

Censors are the ones who choose what to write, and what not to write. The press of the regime is what systematically promulgate censorship, since those press are critical weapons of the dictatorship, even though they are not directly controlled by the government, but rather by the clique that regulates the government as they have power over the mass press.

Current Indian scenario

The elevation of censorship of the press on January 25, 1977, drives most Press members to be caught unawares. The Indian Press Corps has still been squinting during this newly found light after 19 months of becoming virtually incarcerated with very little to do and so much to whinge about.  Newspaper offices, which had started to “resemble crypts,” as one analyst observed, are now once again bustling with activity. And India is again an international topic at this stage, with foreign journalists, camera crews, and professional photographers flooding in to make a good grab on changing events. Just a month or so ago, their presence was hardly accepted. This is not simple to produce an estimation, but at least there are 30-40 western journalists present in New Delhi at any particular time today, with possibly the same amount of photographers and TV camera crews.  

In a few of his elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “Our democracy would not be maintained when we do not ensure freedom of expression and speech.” 

In Bombay, the Indian Express, Chief News Editor, S. Krishnamurty, stated, “More and more large newspapers have become much more readable and accessible nowadays. Even the reality was questioned in censorship since you were just allowed to represent one aspect, so readers didn’t even want to accept that”. 

Assistant Editor of the Times of India, Inder Malhotra, “I am elated that censorship is lifted and is not much active as a journalist. I hope it will be completely excluded and not re-imposed. It is ludicrous to fathom that if any Press is still not, or can not be, entirely free anywhere at any moment. And even from the perspective of all those who tell them what and how to publish or what to keep out, journals get to be irrelevant”.

Press freedom in India: a start towards recession

This basic principle is being suffocated to death slowly and painfully again nowadays, with the emergence of right-wing nationalism and dirty politics in the world.

India was ranked 136 out of 180 by the World Press Freedom Index 2017, a nation with the nation’s biggest democracy. “By Hindu nationalists seeking to eradicate from the national discourse all forms of anti-democratic expression, self-censorship is rising in the mass media,” the source noted.

Though there’s no absolute censorship or governmental intrusion with the freedom of the press, self-censorship incurs a genuine threat to the clear majority of national discursive viewpoints. There should be legislation to not only defend the environment for the media to operate independently and to also guard against the official’s professional and non-option of the media.

The Press Council of India’s recent reports on “Protection of Journalists” claims that 80 Journalists are already dead in India as of 1990, with acquittal so far in just one case. This simply demonstrates that hostility to freedom of the press runs throughout the political spectrum. The danger to the capabilities of the Indian media to conserve a strong majority of opinions is largely due to an inaccurate regulatory design that does nothing to help shield and silence press freedom. We take a glance at the regulations and laws which mostly govern the Indian media as well as what needs to be reformed to promote the freedom of the press. 

An essential feature in how they uncover the reality is the protection of the authenticity of channels used by journalists. In India, however, journalists are not granted statutory rights to protect their sources. In fact, in a courtroom, by not divulging her channels, a journalist may even be charged with obstruction of justice. This renders the reality specious to uncover. The law will make telling the truth a dangerous choice among future abuse in the community by those who are revealed and putting up with unfairness and misconduct.

It is necessary to examine news media authority from the vantage point of the press majority. There are currently no laws imposing restrictions on:

  1. cross-media ownership, 
  2. an incentive to invest in the mainstream press by non-media institutions or
  3. the diversification of news media groups into non-media enterprises. 

In reality, whenever it ratifies monopolies, the Competition Commission of India, which governs economies to ensure it remains competitive, is delusional to the need for “the majority of views” in the media. It is asserted that “the media should not and can not be parsed with general goods and services. The market for ideologies for assuming, boots, or snacks is very distinct from this one”. In general, India’s courts have upheld free speech, yet their record is inconsistent. Most lower courts prefer to deliver poorly reasoned, speech-limiting rulings, and the Supreme Court has often been contradictory, though always a powerful protector of freedom of expression, allowing lower courts to decide whatever precedent to emphasize. This lack of continuity has led to an uneven terrain of freedom of expression rights and left the door open to municipal authorities and interest groups attempting to use the legislation to bully and threaten controversial and opposing views.

The Supreme Court of India has placed limitations on the use of sedition law, rendering inciting violence a mandatory factor, but even in circumstances in which this condition is not met the police tend to lodge sedition charges. There are also other important cases of using the provision of sedition to suppress political controversy or speech. Police in Tamil Nadu, for example, filed sedition charges in May 2012 against thousands of citizens who protested peacefully the establishment of a nuclear power station in Kudankulam.  If citizens who have protested and demonstrated peacefully for a year should be accused of sedition and declaring war on the country in such a callous manner as has been achieved here, what is the future of free speech and dissent in India?

Famous cases and judgements

  • Indian Express Newspaper Private Ltd. v. Union Of India

In this case, the Supreme Court made it very clear that “No limits on freedom of speech and expression apart from those alluded to in Article 19(2) could have been enforced, so there can be no intervention with this kind of freedom within the context of the interest of the public. It needs to be taken seriously that censorship in the present era is an anachronism”. 

  • Shreya Singhal v. Union Of India

The Indian Supreme Court ruled that perhaps a law limiting speech “can’t pass a summon if it is in the general interest of the public”. “One of the eight subject matters referred to in Article 19(2) must be protected by that statute. And if it doesn’t, and is beyond the reach of 19(2), Indian courts will nullify such legislation”. The court ruled in abolishing section 66A of the Information Technology Act that “any legislation seeking to enforce a limitation on freedom of expression can pass muster only if it is closely linked to any of the eight issues referred to in Article 19(2)”.

  • Subramanian Swamy v. Union Of India

The Supreme Court of India, in this case, ruled that, as formulated by the constitution, the criminal defamation law “dictates a limit that is not inadmissible within the scope of fair limitation”. At the very same time, the court set out limitations upon the use of the statute, noting that it is the responsibility of the magistrates to exercise restraint when granting appeals for defamation cases lodged by private persons and to determine if the accused involved should be legally liable for the seriousness of the offense”.

Situation outside India

  1. Censorship seems to be something happening all over the world in every region. Not every country has the same type of censorship or even the same level of censorship, but all cultures are influenced by something in one manner or another. People in the United States swear phrases that are censored out including pornography, which is much of the censorship people face. Although it is a bit different or unique in Poland and Ukraine as in these two nations, censorship is much more like suppression of the dissemination of communications by official government intervention. The censorship people face in Poland and Ukraine has more of an impact on communities because they are not often susceptible to the whole reality.
  2. Censorship is undoubtedly the single most effective way of undermining the right of people to free speech. If a reporter has just to write what the government needs people to hear, they don’t have the right to express what they genuinely want to communicate. People need to be cautious about the details they are putting out, in countries like Poland and Ukraine, because, while they are assumed to have the right to freedom of speech, there may be some significant repercussions for their words and acts.  
  3. Globally, media outlets are frequently shut down or censored by authoritarian regimes, legislation forbids journalists from covering the facts openly, and arrest or kill others who do voice up. Censorship is more likely to be implicit than overt in Canada. It might assume the shape of muzzling state scientists, refusing to allow protesters to reach Canada, book boundary arrests, and libel chills. The common factor is that it silences voices.
  4. Today, several policymakers are concentrating on the internet’s liberating impact. They depend, like entrepreneurs, on creativity and reproduction. In countries like Hungary, Ecuador, Turkey, and Kenya, officials emulate autocracies like Russia, Iran, or China by writing vital news and creating brands of state media. More nuanced methods are now being developed to accompany the harsh instruments of assaulting journalism.
  5. In Hungary, the media authority of the Government does have the right to collect precise journalist information and also advertising as well as editorial material. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban uses penalties, taxation and licencing to exert pressure on critical mainstream press, and manages state advertising to friendly channels. A detailed survey by several international press freedom organisations concluded: “Today, the independent press in Hungary is facing creeping suffocation”.
  6. In Pakistan, the state censor cancelled the licence of Geo TV, the country’s renowned station, after the intelligence agencies made a defamation suit against it following the killing of one of the best-known reporters on the station. Self-censorship and corruption are prevalent, Pakistani press claims.
  7. The world’s most aggressive censor is indeed the nation’s by far the most web users as well as the fastest-growing linked society. China’s conduct is revealed by the evolving menu of censorship. It can be overt and obvious, or covert and nimble. As more regimes try to conceal their attempts to manipulate the press, these stealth tactics have become essential. The internet also helps Chinese authorities to enforce policies of censorship which are nuanced and more difficult for the population to see. In Hong Kong, where China has a constitutional commitment to uphold a free press, Beijing has used a number of steps to restrict independent press, including excessive brutality against publishers and the detention of journalists.
  8. Venezuela, the 30 million-strong nation, has now become a facility to test ways to monitor news and information flows. Media and press representatives are used to brutal treatment by the government. The government has enacted laws restricting freedom of the press, restricting access to public records, levying penalties and fees on media houses, denying broadcast licences, driving programmes off the air, and using foreign currency caps to establish a shortage of imported newsprint. The country has a long tradition of abusing, imprisoning, attacking, and prosecuting reporters for defamation. Journalists know that publishing on bribery or exposing scarcity of basic needs, from toilet paper to medication or food staples, poses great personal dangers in order to reflect poorly on the government. Amid the financial downturn, the government is actively investing in building its own press power.
  9. Free Bangladesh has undergone both military dictatorship and the development of democratic institutions, the press has suffered badly from not only different censorship rules but also a variety of rules on seditious conspiracy and criminal defamation. Journalists predicted that the transition to democracy in 2009 would be followed by a new respect for the press, whose opinions had forced the reign of the [governing party] increasingly challenging. But bizarrely, government involvement has now evolved to the point of frequent reports of acts against a blogger, author, or even Facebook profiles by 2012. A journalist said, “Before writing about any powerful figure, we have to think carefully and change our words. And we also have to be super cautious regarding physical protection and legal issues when dealing with important tasks. The powers of censorship have dominated my career”.
  10. From Russia to Turkey, from Hungary to Bolivia, the rulers are loading supporters at the Supreme Courts and the judiciary and conducting ballots that honor their associates. To avoid the consolidation of power, they are undermining the organizations that exist. Independent press can not live for longer in a political climate like this.

Censorship will continue to rise and will have a downfall too. As technological advancement and the appetite for democracy conflicts with governments that are determined to regulate their people, beginning with what they view, read, and listen to.


Some recommendations that need to be dealt with to completely eradicate censorship and promote free speech and expression: 

  1. Amend the criminal laws of India in compliance with international principles for the preservation of freedom of speech and association as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and as set out in the UN Human Rights Committee and UN mechanisms such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right to free speech and view.
  2. Make a comprehensive roadmap and schedule for the review and removal or modification of the laws that violate rights set out in this article and, where the law is to be modified or revised, consult civil society organizations extensively in an open and public manner.
  3. Create rules and procedures by proactive or non-punitive steps to address hate speech, adapting the response of the government to a particular context. This may involve public education, encouraging diversity, openly combating libelous or incendiary misinformation, and improving protection to protect a community at risk.
  4. To enhance the due process standards that must be met subject to any censorship of content online and to put into effect the required protections for fundamental rights, section 69A of the Information Technology Act and relevant blocking rules will be amended.
  5. Establish training services for all attorneys to ensure it remains aware of the restrictions on legislation limiting freedom of speech implemented by the Supreme Court.
  6. Inform all police forces to have a responsibility to defend endangered people for their debate.
  7. Training judges and magistrates in the light of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression and provides criteria for suppressing free speech, as well as the responsibilities of India under international human rights law.
  8. Implore India, to uphold the rights to free speech and assembly.


The third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, claimed that press freedom serves the function of opening up “all sources of reality”. and not just the one about which the state guides us. He said that instead of “government without newspapers,” he would prefer “newspapers without government”.

Owing to the ever-changing values of social acceptance, censorship in India today is a real hassle. We are now at a time when everybody must be more inclusive and consider voices and opinions which are in contrast to ours. We ought to stand together if we are called to protect the right to speech, a freedom that, despite our differences, is enjoyed by us all.

The issue in India is not whether the constitution doesn’t ensure freedom of expression, but that, thanks to a combination of overbroad rules, a dysfunctional criminal justice system, and the aforementioned lack of clarity in jurisprudence, it is easy to suppress free speech. India’s judicial system is notorious for being clogged and overloaded, resulting in lengthy and costly delays that might deter even the innocent from struggling for their free speech rights. There is increasing friction and controversy over the true essence of India’s freedom of the press. The growth of right-wing extremism and saffronist ideologies, on the one side, propels quiet yet unmistakable censorship that instills fear in the media and the public. But on the other side, efforts by the BJP government to promote greater responsibility and accountability in digital media will broaden the concept of a “free press”. It also seems evident that there is still an urgent need for the commission to use its power to produce a sense of accountability on digital sites such as youtube, Whatsapp, Facebook and not to make laws which therefore reinforce the government’s stance in curtailing press freedom. 


Websites referred

Online authorities

  1. heinonline.com
  2. lexisnexis.com
  3. manupatra.com
  4. scconline.com
  5. westlawindia.com

Dictionary referred

  1. GARNER BRYAN, BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (8th Edition, West Group Publications).
  2. JUDY PEARSALL, CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY (10th Edition, Oxford University Press).

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