We have been taught from childhood that the right to Freedom of Speech and Expression is a fundamental right guaranteed to the citizens of India. The Right to Freedom is guaranteed along with the seven other fundamental rights mentioned in the Indian constitution.
“Your freedom in a country can be gauged by the freedom you exercise in criticizing it”!!
While the above statement might fit into sarcasm, it holds greater validity than it appears. Freedom of speech is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects in an individual’s list of rights – ironically the most unappreciated too.
The theory of freedom of speech was born long back. England’s adopted freedom of speech in 1689, and it still exists. France adopted the right to freedom of speech and expression in 1789. These further confirmed that the Freedom of Speech and expression goes a long way into the past and is an indispensable right.
The Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression in India
The constitution of India provides Freedom of Speech to every citizen but with its expected set of restrictions. It means that the citizens freely express their views about others, the political system, government, the policies and bureaucracy etc.
However, freedom of speech is restricted on these grounds- national security, moral ground and provocation. As per this right, the citizens of the country enjoy the following rights:
- Freedom to freely express ideas, opinions and to speak
- Freedom to peacefully gather without any arms and ammunitions
- Freedom to form groups, associations and unions
- Freedom to move freely in the country
- Freedom to settle in anywhere in the country
- Freedom to opt for any vocation
- Freedom to opt for any kind of business or trade which is not forbidden.
Indians also enjoy the right to information and are free to give their opinion on anything including the activities of the government. Freedom of Speech is also given to the mass media. It is free to share all that is going on in the country as well as around the world. Thus all this makes India a democratic country in a true sense.
What makes Freedom of Speech indispensable?
Freedom of speech is indispensable for the overall growth and development of a person and the nation as a whole. Restricting individuals, society, social and political system hamper the development of the nation and creates discomfort and dissatisfaction leading to stress. ‘A nation whose people are full of discontent fails to grow’.
Thus for the growth of the society, it is essential to have freedom of Speech which helps open up discussions that help in exchange of ideas. This freedom is also important because it makes the government act more responsibly as the government knows that it is being watched and can be confronted or reprimanded for the way it is governing.
The Basis of Democracy
Freedom of speech and expression is also identified as the basis of a democratic nation. A democratic government provides numerous rights to the citizens including the right to form the government. In a democratic state other than electing the government the citizens also enjoy the right to assert their opinion and be vocal about it if they feel that the elected government is not working as per the manifesto declared by it initially. This is why and how the right to freedom of speech forms the basis of democracy and is an essential right in the democratic nations.