Editors Guild of India (EGI) and Freedom of Speech

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    Syllabus: GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    • The Chief Justice of India said the Editors Guild of India (EGI) may be right or wrong in its report about “partisan media coverage” of the Manipur violence, but it has a right to free speech to put forth its views in print.

    The Editors Guild 

    • It was founded in 1978 with the twin objectives of protecting press freedom and for raising the standards of editorial leadership of newspapers and magazines.
    • The Editors Guild has been striving for improving standards of newspaper editors.
      • It has brought a code of ethics of Editors. 
    • Whenever there are complaints from editors of harassment from those in authority, the Editors Guild investigates and recommends action to the concerned governments and institutions.

    Recent Steps

    • The Editors Guild, in a report published on September 2 slammed the internet ban in the State as being detrimental to media reportage, criticised what it termed as one-sided reporting by some media outlets, and claimed that there were indications that the State leadership had “turned partisan” during the conflict.

    Implications

    • The EGI members were booked under various sections of the IPC including Sections 153A, 200, and 298 (deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), and under provisions of the Information Technology Act and Press Council Act.
      • The second FIR added Section 499 (defamation) of the IPC to these charges

    Freedom of speech and Expression in India 

    • Constitutional Provisions: With the gaining of independence, freedom of speech and expression were recognised as fundamental rights and were included in the Indian Constitution.
      • Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution reads: All citizens shall have the right to a freedom of speech and expression
        • Thus all Indian citizens enjoy a constitutional right to give free expression to their views, opinions and convictions. They have, for this purpose, the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. 
      • Article 19(2) says that the State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the freedom of expression and speech in the interests of
        • sovereignty and integrity of India; 
        •  the security of the State; 
        • friendly relations with foreign states; 
        •  public order; decency or morality; 
        •  contempt of court; 
        • defamation and 
        •  incitement to an offence.
      • Article 361A of our Constitution says: 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 the Legislature of a State, unless the publication is proved to have been made with malice. 
    • Supreme Court Judgements  :The Supreme Court delivered judgements in a few cases proclaiming that freedom of speech and expression included freedom of the press also.
      • An important case was that of the Sakal decided by the Supreme Court in 1962. 
      • In that case, the Supreme Court held that the right to propagate one’s ideas was inherent in the concept of freedom of speech and expression and that for the purpose of propagating his ideas, every citizen had a right to publish, disseminate and circulate them.
      • In two earlier cases, Romesh Thapar Vs. State of Madras (1950) and Brij Bhushan Vs. State of Delhi (I950), the Supreme Court held that the freedom of speech and expression included freedom-of-propagation of ideas and that freedom was ensured by the freedom to circulate the ideas.

    Source:TH