Right to Information Unit 2 – Media Law & Ethics Class Notes

Evolution of articles of 19

It guarantees the citizens of India the following 6 fundamental freedoms and it falls under the RIGHT TO FREEDOM ACT.

Right to freedom – Article 19

  1. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc
    (1) All citizens shall have the right
    (a) to freedom of speech and expression;
    (b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
    (c) to form associations or unions;
    (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
    (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
    (f) omitted
    (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

Right to Assemble Peaceably and Without Arms

  • The right to assemble includes right to hold meetings and to take out processions.
  • The assembly must be non-violent and must not cause any breach of public peace
  • An assembly may be ordered to be dispersed if the disturbance to the public peace is reasonably apprehended
  • Unlike the American Constitution which guarantees to the people the right to keep and bear arms, the Indian Constitution does not guarantee any general right to carry arms to any assembly

The right of assembly is thus subject to following restrictions:

(a) The assembly must be peaceful.
(b) It must be unarmed.
(c) Subject to restrictions in the interests of public order.
Section 144, restrain an assembly, meeting or procession if there is a risk of human life, health or safety or a disturbance of the public tranquillity or a riot

Under this section, meetings can be banned and any assembly of more than five persons can be declared unlawful and then ordered to be dispersed

Right to Form Association and Unions

  • Right to form companies, societies, partnership, trade union and political parties.
  • The right guaranteed is not merely the right to form an association but the freedom to join or not to join an association or union
  • The right to form associations or unions does not refer to statutory bodies like local board and municipalities
  • The right to form associations or unions does not carry with it the right to achieve an objective.
  • Legal permission before becoming members of a particular union is not required.

Right to Move Freely Throughout The Indian Territory

  • The Constitution provides the citizens with a right to go wherever they like in Indian Territory without any kind of restriction
  • The object is to create the sense of nationality in the minds of the citizens.
  • Grounds of Restrictions:
    • In the interest of the general public
    • For the protection of interests of the Scheduled Tribes
    • The object is to protect the original tribes which are mostly settled in Assam. These tribes have their own culture, language, customs and manners.
    • Mixing of the tribes with the people of other areas might produce an undesirable effect on the tribal people.

Right to Reside Anywhere in India

  • Indian citizens have the right to reside and settle in any part of India.
  • The right of movement and residence go together. However, reasonable restrictions can be imposed on this right, interests of the general public or for the protection of interests of any Scheduled Tribe.
  • The freedom to reside and settle may be curtailed and suspended during an emergency

Right to Practice Any Profession, Business

  • The Article 19 (1) (g) guarantees to all citizens the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
  • The State may prescribe the professional or technical qualifications necessary for trade, business or occupation, for example, it may prescribe that a lawyer must hold LL.B. degree or a doctor must have passed M.B.B.S. degree exam, etc.
  • However, reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the use of this right in the interests of the general public.

Right To Property (Omitted)

  • The right to property was initially present in Indian constitution under Part III: Fundamental rights.
  • Initially, it was made a fundamental right, to provide protection of property and give legality of land to the people living in newly independent India. But afterwards, it was abolished because the Indian government wanted to bring land reforms and encourage social justice
  • It also aimed to establish the equal distribution of resources.
  • Furthermore, it was important for the development of India to abolish it.
  • Now it is made a constitutional right under Article 300A which states that no person can be deprived of his / her property except by authority of law.

When Freedom of speech and expression is restricted:-

Security of the State:

  • In the interest of the security of State, a reasonable restriction under Article 19 (2) can be imposed on the freedom of speech and expression of a citizen.

Friendly Relations with foreign States:

  • Avoid offensive propaganda against a foreign friendly country, which may spoil good relations between India and that State.
  • Member of the commonwealth including Pakistan is not a “foreign state” for the purposes of this Constitution.

Public Order:

  • Public order is something more than the ordinary maintenance of law and order. ‘Public order’ is synonymous with public peace, safety and tranquillity. Anything that disturbs public tranquillity or public peace disturbs public order.

Decency or Morality:

  • Restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in the Interest of decency or morality. But it has not laid down any test for determining the obscenity. (REFER LAW OF OBSCENITY)

Contempt of Court:

  • ‘Contempt of court’ may be either ‘civil contempt’ or ‘criminal contempt.’ Contempt of court means lowering the prestige of the court.

Defamation:

  • A statement, which injures a man’s reputation, amounts to defamation. A person is known by his reputation more than his wealth.

Incitement to an offence:

  • The right to freedom of speech and expression does not give permission to citizens to incite a person to commit an offence.

Integrity and Sovereignty of India:

  • Freedom of speech and expression can be restricted so as not to permit anyone to challenge sovereignty or to permit anyone to preach something which will result in a threat to the integrity of the country.

Summary

  • Affects the sovereignty and integrity of India – only serious & aggravated issues such as waging of war, riots, crimes
  • Interferes with the friendly relations with foreign states
  • Maintenance of public order, decency or morality
  • No abusive language or obscenity
  • Reputation
  • Contempt of court – civil (wilful disobedience) and criminal (scandalise the authority of court)
  • Seditious charges: Section 124-A in the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
    • It says ‘Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India’ shall be punished with life imprisonment

Right to freedom of property was abolished due to the government’s intention to take away the lands from the people for development plans.

Universal declaration of human rights

  • Article 19 of the Indian Constitution emphasize human rights.
  • Historic document adopted by the UN General Assembly (10th Dec 1948)
  • 48 of the total 58 members of the UN voted in favour of the human rights (UDHR) – none were against it, 8 members abstained from the meet and 2 members didn’t vote
  • UDHR has 30 articles and deals with individual rights

Right to Information Act 2005 and its implication

  • Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and President
  • It is a fundamental right guaranteed for citizens of India
  • To bring transparency
  • Secure access to information of public authority
  • Public information officer – responsible to give information under RTE Act
    • Has an assistant public information officer – report back to the PIO

Information Commissioners

  • Central Information Commissioner
  • State Information Commissioner

Exemptions

  • Public interest
  • Security of the law enforcement
  • Information that impedes the investigation
  • Information received under confidence from foreign gov.
  • Official Secrets Act
  • Cabinet
  • Gov. agencies such as CBI, NIA & RAW
  • Commercial or trade secrets of 3rd party
  • Final decisions are with the Central Govt.

The time period to supply the information

  • 30 days
  • The first appeal is within 30 days after the expiry of the supply of information
  • Exceptional cases – within 45 days

Demand Information

  • Information pertaining to any of the government departments
  • Public development works
  • The action was taken on information commission

Right to reply

  • Criticism imposed on a person or organization
  • Right to reply by defending themselves in the very same forum/platform
  • Constitutional right in Brazil

Right to knowledge

Right to be forgotten