The Constitution guarantees all Indian citizens the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. This right is subject to the constitutionally prescribed reasonable restrictions. Though the 1950 text had prescribed limited restrictions, the 1st Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1951 expanded its scope.  Increasing number of journalists’ death, censorship of - movies, books, news and other forms of art require us to reassess the scope and limitations of this fundamental right; it also calls for relooking at the balance between the individual right to freedom and the larger societal interests in the Indian context.

In this worksheet we will revisit the constitutional history behind Articles 19 (1) (a) and 19 (2) of the Indian Constitution:  19 (1) All citizens shall have the right—

      (a) to freedom of speech and expression; 

(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

What were the debates among the framers of the Indian Constitution on freedom of speech and expression?

This exercise is designed for students of undergraduate courses.

Resources:

Worksheet (PDF)

Level of difficulty: Normal