Freedom of journalism is the root of right to freedom of expression: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the freedom of journalism is the fundamental basis of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression given in the Constitution. The apex court also said that India’s independence is safe only as long as the journalist can speak out in front of the power without fear of retaliation.
The bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah made these stern remarks during the hearing on Tuesday in the case of Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami. The bench said that many criminal cases cannot be filed against a journalist in relation to the same incident. Forcing him to circle for relief in many states is strangling the freedom of journalism.
The Bench also referred to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (CRPC) in relation to the fundamental right of expression is given in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution and the investigation of a criminal case. The bench said the freedom of journalism is the fundamental basis of the fundamental right of protected expression given in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.
The petitioner is a journalist. Using the fundamental right of expression from the constitution, the petitioner expressed his views in a TV program. While delivering the 56-page judgment through video conferencing, the bench quashed all FIRs except for the case transferred from Nagpur to Mumbai, giving Arnab protection for three weeks. The demand for handing over the cases registered against him to the CBI turned down.
The bench asked Goswami to move the competent court to quash the Mumbai-based FIR. Earlier, on April 24, the apex court granted Goswami three weeks of interim protection in over 100 FIRs registered across the country. Goswami is alleged to have made objectionable remarks about the silence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a TV show after the killing of saints in Palghar.
Journalists have a high level of authority, but they are not unlimited
Justice Chandrachud said in the judgment that under Article 19 (1) (a), the rights given to freedom of speech and expression by journalists are high, but not unlimited. “The media is also accountable under the provisions of appropriate sanctions,” the bench said.
The bench said, “Although the freedom of speech and expression of a journalist is not on the top rung, we should not forget that as a society, the former cannot exist without the second.” If the media is forced to adopt an attitude then the freedom of citizens will not exist.