Future of free speech
Close on the heels of two landmark decisions, the Supreme Court on Thursday referred another important matter to a five-judge Constitution bench: whether freedom of speech protects a public functionary or minister’s right to express views on sensitive matters that are under investigation.
This newspaper has argued that freedom of expression is the foundational fundamental right—and that the Indian Constitution does a poor job of protecting it with too many caveats and restrictions that prioritize community rights over individual rights. Restrictions on political speech are particularly worrisome in a democracy; thus, any further constraints are unwelcome.
That said, ongoing global debates about freedom of expression cannot be ignored.
The bench in this instance expressed concern over the misuse of social media to spread false information. How this debate shapes up and whether states can accommodate the reality of changing communication technology without compromising freedom of expression are crucial questions.