Free speech in our Constitution refers to our ability to be free with our thoughts and speech and to acquire any information from others or any sources without the fear of any form of retribution, repression or restriction.
This is the first principle of free societies and this right enjoys a special position in our country. While this right grants everyone the liberty of speech, it also has to be noted that the liberty cannot interfere with or offend the liberty of other individuals.
While this right that we possess and one that is enforced by law is probably one of the more important rights, it is currently being suppressed by many authorities under the disguise of it being treated as immorality, indecency or disruption of public order. There have been many instances in the past few years, when event the slightest criticism of our public leaders or the decisions that they make have been banned citing the reason of disruption of public order.
The True Picture
India boasts of a very vibrant press that is also very critical, ours is a strong culture of dissent. We may be one of the few countries within Asia that champions this right, but as new technologies strengthen our freedom of speech by giving us more avenues through which we can voice our opinion. Our government is on the other hand, making efforts that are contrary.
We can see this is the way Indian authorities are constantly catering to the demands of political parties or extremist groups that call for the banning of various publications or films that they claim are very offensive in nature. At the same time, they are also playing with the complete curbing of free speech through the issuing of laws that govern print media and internet content.
India had recently drafted new laws that give people the right to remove the service providers and internet sites to be removed on the basis of objectionable content and other criteria. Sedition charges were placed on activist Binayak Sen and author Arundhati Roy, where Sen was given a sentence of two years imprisonment.
The banning of literary publications seem to be a favorite past time of authorities who have removed a number of books from the market, their latest achievement being the controversial biography on Gandhi written by Joseph Lelyveld.