Freedom of speech and
expression in the context of public interest is the Press – the print media and
the broadcast media. It has taken the responsibility to inform the public about
the functioning of the elected government. This includes all other matters in
which public have a right to know. Right to discussion and criticize forms an
active part of this right. In RomeshThappar v. State of Madras, the
Supreme Court has included press in the definition of freedom of speech or
expression. In L.I.C. v. Manubhai Shah,
the Supreme Court reiterated asi n Indian Express Newspapers v. Union of
stated that freedom tocirculate ones views can be by word of mouth or in
writing or through audio visual media. This right to circulate also includes
the right todetermine the volume of circulation.The press enjoys the
privilege of sitting in the Courts on behalf ofthe general public to keep them
informed on matters of public importance. The journalist therefore has the
right to attend proceedingsin Court and publish fair reports. This right is
available in respect ofJudicial and Quasi-Judicial tribunals.
However this is not an absolute
right. There are also other important considerations, for instance the
reporting of names of rapevictims, children, juvenile, woman should be
prohibited. This restrictionis placed because of their weak position in the
society that makes themvulnerable to exploitation. Therefore in the interests
of justice, the courtmay restrict the publicity of Court proceedings.
The right to report legislative
proceedings is also a part of the press freedom. In a democratic society it is
necessary that the society shall be apart of the discussions on policy matters.
They need to know the detailsof debates, as transparency in governance is a
must for the properfunctioning of a democratic society. This right of the press
to of parliamentary proceedings is
protected by the Constitution.It also gives protection to
true reporting of the proceedings of StateAssemblies. A similar protection is
provided in the ParliamentaryProceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1977.
In Tata Press Ltd v.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd,
the SupremeCourt also included into freedom of speech and expression the right
toadvertise or the right of commercial speech. Before this
decision,advertisements were not considered as part of the definition of free
speech.This decision reflects the dilution in the already wide freedom of
speech andexpression. It was in variance to the earlier limitation on this
freedom,which was enunciated in Hamdard Dwakhana v. Union of India
, in which the apex court observed that commercial advertisement does not
fallwithin the protection of speech and expression as there is an element
oftrade and commerce in them. But in Tata case, Supreme Court stated that
advertising pays a large portion of the costs of supplying the public with
newspaper. So for a democratic press the advertising subsidy is crucial. The
court further observed that without advertising, the resources available for
expenditure on reporting the ‘news’ would decline, which may lead to an erosion
of its quality and quantity. In Hindustan Times v. State of U.P,
the Supreme Court again reiterated the importance of advertising and its
connection with the circulation of paper.
Nothing in this world is absolute; hence freedom of
speech and expression is also subjected to certain restrictions. No person has
the right to speak or express any views towards any person or organization if
it is not true. This would lead to defamation, which is punishable under both
Indian Penal Code, 1860 as well as the law of torts. But in case where a person
in good faith believes that certain facts are true about another person or
organization then it would not be considered as an offence. Sometimes, when the
press meddles in certain court proceedings which hamper the fair process of
trial and delivering of justice then the press can also be charged for contempt
of court under Contempt of Court Act, 1971. The press should not try to create
an opinion among the people as well as the judges towards a certain case, where
the outcome may be prejudicial to the interest of the accused. It can be seen
that pre-trial publications have not been given importance in the existing laws
dealing with contempt. In the case A.K
Gopalan v. Noordeen
, the Supreme Court held that a publication made after “arrest” of a person
could be considered as contempt if it was prejudicial to the suspect or accused
 L.I.C. v. Manubhai Shah, (1992) 3
 Indian Express Newspapers v. Union of India (1985) 1
 Sakal Papers v. Union of India, A.I.R.
1962 S.C. 305.
 Saroj Iyer v. Maharashtra Medical
(Council), A.I.R. 2002 Bom .95.
 Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State of Maharashtra,
A.I.R. 1967 S.C. 1.
 Article 361-A of the Constitution of India (1) No person
shall be liable to any proceedings, civil or criminal, in any Court in respect
of the publication in a newspaper of a substantially true report of any
proceedings of either House of Parliament or the Legislative Assembly or as the
case maybe, either House of the Legislature of a state, unless the publication
is proved to have been made with malice
Clause (1) shall apply in relation to reports or matters broadcast by means of
wireless telegraphy as part of any programme or service provided by means of a
broadcasting station as it applies in relation to reports or matters published
in a newspaper. Explanation: In this article newspaper includes a news agency
report containing material for publication in a newspaper.
Tata Press Ltd v.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (1995) 5 S.C.C. 139.
A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 1167.
(2003) 1 S.C.C. 591.
 AIR 1970 SC 1694.