19(2) of Indian Constitution
The Grounds on Which This Freedom Could Be Restricted
Clause (2) of Article 19 of the Indian constitution imposes certain restrictions on free speech under following heads:
I. security of the State,
II. friendly relations with foreign States
III. public order,
IV. decency and morality,
V. contempt of court,
VII. incitement to an offence, and
VIII. sovereignty and integrity of India.
Security of the State:
Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the freedom of speech and expression, in the interest of the security of the State. The term security of state has to be distinguished from public order. For security of state refers to serious and aggravated forms of public disorder, example rebellion, waging war against the state [entire state or part of the state], insurrection etc People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India.
In the case of People’s Union for Civil Liberty versus Union of India AIR 1997 SC 568 a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed under Article 32of the Indian Constitution by PUCL, against the frequent cases of telephone tapping. The validity of Section 5(2)of The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 was challenged. It was observed that “occurrence of public emergency” and “in the interest of public safety” is the sine qua non for the application of the provisions of Section 5(2). If any of these two conditions are not present, the government has no right to exercise its power under the said section. Telephone tapping, therefore, violates Article 19(1) (a) unless it comes within the grounds of reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2).
Friendly relations with foreign States:
This ground was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act of 1951. The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression, if it hampers the friendly relations of India with other State or States.
This ground was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 in order to meet the situation arising from the Supreme Court's decision in Romesh Thapar’s, case (AIR 1950 SC 124). As per hon’ble Supreme court, public order is different from law and order and security of state [Kishori Mohan v. State of West Bengal]. The expression 'public order' connotes the sense of public peace, safety and tranquillity. Anything that disturbs public peace disturbs public order [Om Prakash v. Emperor, AIR 1948 Nag, 199].But mere criticism of the government does not necessarily disturb public order.A law, which punishes the deliberate utterances hurting the religious feelings of any class has been held to be valid and reasonable restriction aimed to maintaining the public order.
Decency and morality section 292 to 294 of the Indian Penal Code provide instances of restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression on the grounds of decency and morality, it prohibits the sale or distribution or exhibition of obscene words. The standard of morality changes with changing times. Supreme Court in RanjitD. Udeshi v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1965 SC 881)upheld the conviction of a book seller who was prosecuted under Section 292, I.P.C., for selling and keeping the bookLady Chatterley's Lover.
Contempt of court:
The constitutional right to freedom of speech would not allow a person to contempt the courts. The expression Contempt of Court has been defined Section 2 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The term contempt of court refers to civil contempt or criminal contempt under the Act.
In E.M.S. Namboodripad v. T.N. Nambiar(1970) 2 SCC 325; AIR 1970 SC 2015), the Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the High Court, holding Mr. Namboodripad guilty of contempt of court. In M.R. Parashar v. Farooq Abdullah(1984) 2 SCC 343; AIR 1984 SC 615),contempt proceedings were initiated against the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. But the Court dismissed the petition for want of proof.
The clause (2) of Article 19 prevents any person from making any statement that defames the reputation of another. Defamation is a crime in India inserted into Section 499 and 500 of the I.P.C. Right to free speech is not absolute. It does not mean freedom to hurt another’s reputation which is protected under Article 21 of the constitution. Although truth is considered a defence against defamation, but the defence would help only if the statement was made ‘for the public good.’ And that is a question of fact to be assessed by the judiciary.
Incitement to an offense: This ground was also added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951. The Constitution also prohibits a person from making any statement that incites people to commit offense.
Sovereignty and integrity of India: This ground was added subsequently by the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963. This is aimed to prohibit anyone from making the statements that challenge the integrity and sovereignty of India.
To conclude, right to freedom of speech and expression, is an important fundamental right, scope of which, has been widened to include freedom of press, right to information including commercial information, right to silence and right to criticize. The said right is however, subjective to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2).
19(2) of Indian Constitution