Freedom of speech


Freedom of speech is the right to communicate ideas and opinions without fear of retaliation by the government or censorship. This term is often used interchangeably with freedom of expression. It also embraces any act of pursuing, receiving and conveying information irrespective of the medium of communication. Speech includes not just speaking in public, but also the various forms of expression. Different countries have varying laws on freedom of speech and also have varying levels of freedom allowed without prosecution. While in some countries, there is hardly any freedom and the state has strict control over the dissemination of information, some nations have broad tolerance levels. But almost all countries have some laws that deal with censorship. Even liberal democracies have certain restrictions over the freedom of speech especially when it comes to hate speeches, defamation laws and obscenity.

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression in India. The constitution itself imposes certain restrictions to this freedom by enabling the state to curb this freedom under the following circumstances: State security, friendly relations with foreign states, decency and morality, public order, defamation, contempt of court, incitement to an offence, and the sovereignty and integrity of India are threatened.