Freedom of Speech and Expression


Freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. While exercising freedom of speech and expression you cannot use this freedom to instigate violence against others. It is also a fundamental right guaranteed under article 19 of the universal declaration of Human rights. It is an accepted fact that free speech is a important pre-condition to the enjoyment of other rights, such as the right to vote free assembly and freedom of association. It is also essential to ensure freedom of press. UN Human Right Committee says that freedom of speech and expression is considered an indispensable condition for the fulfilment of person necessary for any society and a foundation stone for every free and democratic society. 

Keyword: -Universal, Precondition, Democracy, Indispensable.


In India article 19(1) guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Article 19(2) talks about reasonable restrictions that can be imposed on this right.In Indian Constitution, every person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression without any interference. Everybody’s idea of thinking is different and he should have the freedom to express himself. A citizen of India can express his views or opinions on any subject, through any medium. They give more importance to this right. The main purpose behind this right is to increase public participation in the functioning of the government, then only citizens can express their views or raise their objection in the functioning and decision-making process of the government. The freedom of expression implies the right to present one’s point of view, opinion, belief or outlook by any mode of communication, words: written or spoken, visual representation, paintings, printings, etc. amongst various others. The presentation of one’s thinking in a free manner without any interference. However, the right is not absolute and is subjected to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2). Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the performance of any existing law, or prevent the state from making any law, in so far as such law imposes a reasonable restriction on the exercise of the right delivered by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty & integrity of India, the security of the state, amiable relations with foreign states, public order, or concerning contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense. Freedom of Speech and Expression gives the citizens of India the right to express opinions and beliefs without any fright, by modes of words, written or spoken, pictures. However, that right is not an absolute right & justifiable restriction may be imposed under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution by the state.

Scope of Freedom of Speech and Expression: –

Article 19 clause (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees to all its citizens the right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. It states that every citizen of India will have the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. In Article 19 clause (2), reasonable restrictions can be imposed on exercise of that right for some intentions. Limitation on the exercise of the right under Article 19 clause (1) (a) is not falling within the four corners of Article 19 clause (2).It is necessary to note that restriction on the Freedom of Speech of any citizen may be placed as much by an act of the State as by its inaction. Failure on the part of the State to guarantee to its citizen does not respective of their circumstances and the class to which they belong, the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech & Expression would constitute a violation of Article 19 clause (1)(a).

The Grounds of Restriction:

Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution imposes some restrictions on free speech under the following heads: –

  • Security of the State
  • Friendly relations with the Foreign States
  • Public Order
  • Decency and Morality
  • Contempt of Court
  • Defamation
  • Incitement to an Offence
  • Sovereignty and Integrity of India

Historical Background:-

In India Constitution, this right is provided under Article 19(1) sub-clause (a). The Right of freedom to speech and expression is not completely unchecked. Article 19(2) talks about reasonable restrictions to be imposed on fundamental rights, including that of freedom to speech and expression. In Romesh Thappar v Union of India [6], Justice Patanjali has rightfully held that 19(1) (g) is the very basis and essence of the constitution and our democracy. Reasonable restrictions[1], however, he noted, should be such that others’ rights should not be hindered or affected by the acts of one man, in the case of the judiciary has endorse the restrictions. It can be imposed and the author describes them under several sub-headings.

What is need to protect Freedom of Speech and Expression?

There are some important justifications for freedom of speech and Expression:-

  • Transparency: If restrictions on speech is tolerated, society tends to keep silent about accurate facts and valuable opinions.
  • Personality and its growth: Freedom of speech is an integral aspect of each individual’s right to self-development and self-fulfillment, restrictions on which will hamperpersonality, and its growth.
  • One’s belief and show political attitudes: Freedom of speech providesthe opportunity to express one’s belief and show political attitudes which ultimately results in the welfare of the society and state.
  • Democracy: Freedom of speech is important to understand political issues and participate in the smooth working of democracy and decision-making[2].

Exceptions in Freedom of Speech: –

There are some Exceptions in Freedom of Speech: –

  • There is no place on earth where there are no limitations to freedom of speech.
  • All the superpowers including US, Russia, Britain etc never tolerate voices against their policies.

Case law: –

Indian Express Newspapers v. Union of India & Ors. 6thDecember, 1984: –

In this case, the court observed that the government was indeed empowered to levy taxes affecting the publication of newspaper. There cannot be any interference with the freedom of press in the name of public interest. The main aim of the press is to increase the public interest by publishing facts and opinions, without which a democratic electorate cannot take responsible decisions.Similarly, imposition of pre-censorship of a journal, or prohibiting a newspaper from publishing its own views about any burning issue is a restriction[3] on the liberty of the press[4].

Conclusion: –

In this article we can be easily conclude that right to freedom of speech and expression is one of the most necessary fundamental rights. This right can be restricted on many grounds if the government thinks so like sovereignty & integrity. Nobody has a right to give a speech or an expression by any means for making the public order void or against. It in the name of using the Freedom of Speech and Expression.However that right is subjected to reasonable restrictions under Article 19 clause 2. It can be comprehended that public order holds very much of significance as a ground of restriction on his Fundamental Right.Free speech is necessary for everybody &protection is needed from the government. Everyone enjoys the benefit of the Freedom of Speech and Expression.


At last, I would like to conclude my whole article that, I have discussed the whole legal definition of Freedom of Speech and Expression and various case law which was the whole soul summary of the whole case.  In this article, I have discussed theGrounds of Restriction under Article 19,Scope of Freedom of Speech and Expression, what is the Historical Background of Freedom of Speech and Expression, and what is the need to protect Freedom of Speech and Expression. I have discussed some exceptions to Freedom of Speech. It is the most important Fundamental Right of the every citizen of India.






[4] 1986 AIR 515, 1985 SCR (2) 287

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