Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Report


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CPJ Report

Mains level: Freedom of press

The number of journalists jailed around the world for practicing their profession has touched a record high, with 363 reporters deprived of their freedom as of December 1, 2022, according to the 2022 prison census released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

About Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

  • The CPJ is an American independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in New York City, New York, with correspondents around the world.
  • CPJ promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists.
  • It is often called as the “Journalism’s Red Cross.”
  • Since late 1980s, the organization has been publishing an annual census of journalists killed or imprisoned in relation to their work.

Key highlights of CPJ report

  • This year’s top five jailers of journalists were Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus, respectively.
  • New ‘fake news’ laws, criminal defamation, and abuse of judiciary are also tactics used to clamp down on press freedom.
  • This year’s top five jailers of journalists were Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus, respectively.
  • These govt aimed to keep the lid on broiling discontent in a world disrupted by COVID-19 and the economic fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine.
  • In China, too, another ‘worst offender’, many imprisoned journalists were Uighurs from Xinjiang.

What did it say about India?

India continues to draw criticism over its treatment of the media, in particular its use of-

  1. Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act,
  2. Preventive detention law- to keep journalists behind bars after they were granted court-ordered bail in separate cases,
  3. Terrorism-related Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to investigate and charge the journalists.

Why does this report matter?

  • Earlier this year, India has reached 150th position in the World Press Freedom Index, dropping further from its last year’s 142nd rank out of 180 countries.
  • The safety of journalists is a grave concern in the Indian media landscape.


  • The right occasion to deliberate about the much-needed reforms in the media ecosystem in the country is due.
  • Establishing plurality in ownership, better legal frameworks to protect journalists, and steps to reduce the influence of vested interest groups in Media operations are the immediate steps required.

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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