Freedom of speech andexpression in the context of public interest is the Press – the print media andthe broadcast media. It has taken the responsibility to inform the public aboutthe functioning of the elected government.

This includes all other matters inwhich public have a right to know. Right to discussion and criticize forms anactive part of this right. In RomeshThappar v.

State of Madras, theSupreme Court has included press in the definition of freedom of speech orexpression. In L.I.C. v. Manubhai Shah[1],the Supreme Court reiterated asi n Indian Express Newspapers v.

Union ofIndia[2]stated that freedom tocirculate ones views can be by word of mouth or inwriting or through audio visual media. This right to circulate also includesthe right todetermine the volume of circulation[3].The press enjoys theprivilege of sitting in the Courts on behalf ofthe general public to keep theminformed on matters of public importance. The journalist therefore has theright to attend proceedingsin Court and publish fair reports. This right isavailable in respect ofJudicial and Quasi-Judicial tribunals[4].                 However this is not an absoluteright.

There are also other important considerations, for instance thereporting of names of rapevictims, children, juvenile, woman should beprohibited. This restrictionis placed because of their weak position in thesociety that makes themvulnerable to exploitation. Therefore in the interestsof justice, the courtmay restrict the publicity of Court proceedings[5].                  The right to report legislativeproceedings is also a part of the press freedom. In a democratic society it isnecessary that the society shall be apart of the discussions on policy matters.They need to know the detailsof debates, as transparency in governance is amust for the properfunctioning of a democratic society.

This right of the pressto  of parliamentary proceedings isprotected by the Constitution[6].It also gives protection totrue reporting of the proceedings of StateAssemblies.[7] A similar protection isprovided in the ParliamentaryProceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1977.                 In Tata Press Ltd v.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd[8],the SupremeCourt also included into freedom of speech and expression the righttoadvertise or the right of commercial speech. Before thisdecision,advertisements were not considered as part of the definition of freespeech.This decision reflects the dilution in the already wide freedom ofspeech andexpression. It was in variance to the earlier limitation on thisfreedom,which was enunciated in Hamdard Dwakhana v.

Union of India[9], in which the apex court observed that commercial advertisement does notfallwithin the protection of speech and expression as there is an elementoftrade and commerce in them. But in Tata case, Supreme Court stated thatadvertising pays a large portion of the costs of supplying the public withnewspaper. So for a democratic press the advertising subsidy is crucial. Thecourt further observed that without advertising, the resources available forexpenditure on reporting the ‘news’ would decline, which may lead to an erosionof its quality and quantity.

In Hindustan Times v. State of U.P[10],the Supreme Court again reiterated the importance of advertising and itsconnection with the circulation of paper.             Nothing in this world is absolute; hence freedom ofspeech and expression is also subjected to certain restrictions. No person hasthe right to speak or express any views towards any person or organization ifit is not true. This would lead to defamation, which is punishable under bothIndian Penal Code, 1860 as well as the law of torts. But in case where a personin good faith believes that certain facts are true about another person ororganization then it would not be considered as an offence. Sometimes, when thepress meddles in certain court proceedings which hamper the fair process oftrial and delivering of justice then the press can also be charged for contemptof court under Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

The press should not try to createan opinion among the people as well as the judges towards a certain case, wherethe outcome may be prejudicial to the interest of the accused. It can be seenthat pre-trial publications have not been given importance in the existing lawsdealing with contempt. In the case A.KGopalan v. Noordeen[11], the Supreme Court held that a publication made after “arrest” of a personcould be considered as contempt if it was prejudicial to the suspect or accused[1] L.I.C. v.

Manubhai Shah, (1992) 3S.C.C. 637.[2] Indian Express Newspapers v.

Union of India (1985) 1S.C.C. 641.[3] Sakal Papers v. Union of India, A.

I.R.1962 S.C. 305.

[4] Saroj Iyer v. Maharashtra Medical(Council), A.I.

R. 2002 Bom .95.[5] Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State of Maharashtra,A.I.

R. 1967 S.C. 1.

[6] Article 361-A of the Constitution of India (1) No personshall be liable to any proceedings, civil or criminal, in any Court in respectof the publication in a newspaper of a substantially true report of anyproceedings of either House of Parliament or the Legislative Assembly or as thecase maybe, either House of the Legislature of a state, unless the publicationis proved to have been made with malice(2)Clause (1) shall apply in relation to reports or matters broadcast by means ofwireless telegraphy as part of any programme or service provided by means of abroadcasting station as it applies in relation to reports or matters publishedin a newspaper. Explanation: In this article newspaper includes a news agencyreport containing material for publication in a newspaper.[7]  Ibid[8]  Tata Press Ltd v.Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (1995) 5 S.C.C. 139.

[9]  A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 1167.

[10]  (2003) 1 S.C.C. 591.[11] AIR 1970 SC 1694.


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