Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Protest should not hinder traffic: SC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Right to Protest

Mains level: Reasonable restrictions on Fundamental Rights

The Supreme Court took a nuanced stand saying farmers have the right to protest but the agitation should not hinder traffic or public movement.

Right to Protest

  • When a group, community, or even a person goes up to protest, it is usually to showcase their disapproval or demur against any action, policy, statement, etc of state or government or any organization.
  • Mostly the flow of protest is driven through political waves that also demonstrate the collective organization of people to make the government or state address their issues and take steps to overcome them.
  • In India, the right to protest is the manifestation of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association, and the right to freedom of speech.

Constitutional Backing

  • Article 19(1) states that All citizens shall have the right:

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(f) omitted

(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

Reasonable restrictions on Protest

  • Article 51A makes it a fundamental duty for every person to safeguard public property and to avoid violence during the protests and resorting to violence during public protests results in infringement of key fundamental duty of citizens.
  • Article 19(1)(b) states about the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. Thereby, the right to peaceful protest is bestowed to Indian citizens by our Constitution.
  • Article 19(2) imposes a restriction on a person to prevent him from making a defamatory statement which defames the reputation of another person.
  • Article 19(3): The reasonable restrictions are imposed in the interests of the sovereignty & integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to an offense.

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