‘Freedom of speech & expression’ a statement most widely quoted by Indian citizens & a right most hugely violated by the Indian system, the most recent example is that of the hundreds of innocent reporters that were arrested for the crime of showing people the truth of the unjust legislation’s of CAA & NRC.
Paid news is also a stark reality of today with channels such as Republic TV, The Wire and NDTV allegedly being referred to as media bought by the leftist Indian government.
In the past decade their is a steep rise in the number of crimes against journalists, including harassment, battery, hate mail, unlawful confinement etc and most of these crimes were indirectly government funded . India has dropped two places under the Global Press Freedom Index under the present government proving exactly with facts the deteriorating conditions of Indian journalists , their dilemma and the atrocities against them . While many have chosen to conform to the views and opinions of the government , a few strong spirited honest men and women continue to fight for what is right and educate the masses through the means of mass media and papers but the question is for how long and in what measure.Media is the amplification of the voices of masses. It is an significant pillar of democracy. Any effort to restrict the freedom and independence of journalists would amount to shaking the foundation of democracy. No doubt, the security of the nation is of primordial importance and can be the suffused as a reasonable restriction in the freedoms enjoyed by media. But it is certainly the duty of the courts to determine whether the restriction is fair, just and reasonable. India’s ranking has dropped to two places on the World Press Freedom Index, 2020 to be ranked 142nd out of 180 countries which casts a worrisome scenario on freedom of Indian press.However, Freedom of press is not explicitly mentioned in article 19(1) (a) of the India. Constitution and what is mentioned there is only freedom of speech and expression. The fundamental principle which was involved in freedom of press is the “people’s right to know”. It therefore received an unstinting support from all those who believe in the free flow of the information and participation of the people in the administration. It is the foremost duty of all national courts to uphold this freedom and invalidate all laws or administrative actions which interfere with this freedom, are contrary to the constitutional mandate.Emergency era was indeed a death blow to the freedom of press. In present times Kashmir after the abrogation of section 370 has witnessed many cases on embezzlement of free press thereby leading to the curtailment of human rights and its abhorrent violations.Media has a powerful role to play in any form of government, whether it be democratic or totalitarian. The information assists in shaping the views of the public. When one has such a power to influence the views of a whole public, then you must be even more responsible. In fact, the media is sometimes more powerful than the government. They have people’s trust and support. However, such a power given to any individual or agency is quite dangerous.In other words, any media without restraints can be hazardous. As they have the power to highlight any issue at large, they may report anything and wind the facts as per their agendas. They have the power to cause outrage amongst the people. A free press can easily mortify the public’s opinion. This is why we need responsible journalism to refrain the media from reporting false facts which may bury the harmony and peace of a country.
By – Aishani chatterjee