Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

India slips to 150 in Press Freedom Index


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Freedom of Speech and Expression, Its many aspects

Mains level : Freedom of press in India

India has reached 150th position in the World Press Freedom Index, dropping further from its last year’s 142nd rank out of 180 countries.

What is Press Freedom Index?

  • The PFI is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders since 2002.
  • It is based upon the organisation’s own assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year.
  • It intends to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.
  • It does not measure the quality of journalism in the countries it assesses, nor does it look at human rights violations in general.

Highlights of the 2022 report

(a) Best performing countries

  • Norway– 1st
  • Denmark– 2nd
  • Sweden– 3rd
  • Estonia– 4th
  • Finland– 5th

(b) Worst performers

  • North Korea remained at the bottom of the list, while Russia was placed at 155th position, slipping from 150th last year.
  • As per the global media watchdog, China climbed up by two positions ranking at 175th position, as compared to 177th position last year.

 (c) Performance in our neighbourhood

  • Besides India, its neighbours except Nepal have also slid down.
  • While Pakistan is at 157th position, Sri Lanka ranks at 146th, Bangladesh at 162nd and Maynmar at 176th position.

Back2Basics: Freedom of Press and Constitutional Provisions

  • The Supreme Court in Romesh Thappar v. the State of Madras, 1950 observed that freedom of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations.
  • It is guaranteed under the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, which deals with ‘Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.
  • Freedom of the press is not expressly protected by the Indian legal system but it is impliedly protected under article 19(1) (a) of the constitution.
  • The freedom of the press is also not absolute.

Reasonable restrictions

  • A law could impose only those restrictions on the exercise of this right, it faces certain restrictions under article 19(2), which is as follows:
  1. Sovereignty and integrity of India
  2. Security of the State,
  3. Friendly relations with foreign States
  4. Public order, decency or morality
  5. Contempt of court
  6. Defamation
  7. Incitement to an offence



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