Critical Analysis of Free Speech In India

Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799), one of the Founding Fathers of the world’s oldest modern Democracy, said – “The constitution is not the instrument for the Government to restrain people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” This view not only uncovers the fundamental nature of the constitution as being “supreme” but also elucidates that the essence of democracy lies in its value of “accountability.” This accountability establishes the civil society at par with the State as a counterbalancing force to keep a check on the latter.  

Therefore, a democratic constitution ensures that every citizen is guaranteed basic fundamental rights that are inviolable. These rights grant liberty to citizens and safeguard the people’s interest, allowing them to hold the Government accountable for its actions and policies.


This linkage between fundamental rights and accountability demonstrates a measuring scale to assess how democratic a country is? With this note, we shall critically analyze the functioning of the world’s largest democracy with respect to one of the significant fundamental rights – Freedom of Speech and Expression, which acts as a pivotal bridge between democracy and governmental accountability in its entirety. At the individual level, free speech acts as a means to active participation, whereas at a communal level, free speech along with the principle of equality grants a space where the voices of the minorities are also heard actively. Dissent is an essential facet of free speech, and how the State treats dissent tells how free its citizens genuinely are and how effectively the democratic structure is functioning. 


Before we move on to analyze the current state of Indian democracy, we shall first delve into an in-depth understanding of Article 19(1)(a) Freedom of Speech and Expression via exploring its historical background and what it constitutes. 



India attained independence on 15th August 1947, with a pledge to conduct its first general election (1951-52) based on Universal Adult Franchise. This suffrage experiment, along with India’s constitutional commitment, made India the world’s largest democracy. 


The essence of Indian democracy lies in its commitment to advocate for free speech. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution guarantees all its citizens the “Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship .” The scope of this liberty was further expanded via transforming the Preamble provision as a fundamental human right under PART III – Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which declared that “all citizens shall have the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.”


 Whereas in opposition to the restrictive and suppressive colonial laws, such as section 295A in Hate Speech Law (1870), Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act (1907), which deprived native citizen’s right to freedom of speech and assembly, the constituent assembly resorted to adopting the idea of “Bill of Rights” from the American Constitution. The Constituent Assembly then designated these Rights in “PART III -Fundamental Rights” of the Indian Constitution. Here, Article 19(1)(a) Freedom of Speech and Expression of the Indian Constitution (1949) was adapted from the 1st Amendment to U.S.A. Constitution (1726)


Despite the adaption, two notable distinctions emerge between the 1st Amendment and Article 19(1)(a) regarding the formulation of free speech – first, the latter omits the mention of freedom of the press, whereas the former entails it; second, the latter is governed by the principle of “reasonable restrictions” unlike the former which recognizes itself to endow absolute right to practice free speech. Although the constituent assembly was unanimous about incorporating Freedom Speech and Expression as a fundamental right, it saw few skirmishes primarily revolving around these two notable distinctions mentioned above. 


It is important to note that before renumbering and rearranging Bill’s sections, Article 19 was recognized as Article 13 by the constituent Assembly. 


  1. Separate mention of Freedom of Press

Pertaining to the deliberations regarding the omission of freedom of press, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said, “the press has no special rights which are not to be given or which are not to be exercised by the citizen in his individual capacity. The editor of a press or the manager is merely exercising the right of expression, and therefore, no special mention is necessary of the freedom of press.” 

Whereas K.T. Shah opined that a separate provision must be made to uphold the freedom of the press. He held the view that in the future, laws can be passed or administered in a way that may curtail the freedom of the press, calling the omission of this clause a “blemish” and against the construct of a progressive liberal constitution.  


Later, based on majority votes, the consensus was upheld that rights of the press were implicitly falling under the broader ambit of the right to freedom of speech and expression. 

This implicit incorporation was further justified in the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ramesh Thapar vs. State of Madras (1950), wherein the SC held that authorizing governmental ban upon the entry and circulation of a journal in a state is restrictive of freedom of speech and expression and is permissible within the scope of the article. Whereas, the issue on the imposition of pre-censorship was clarified via SC’s verdict on Express Newspaper Ltd. vs. Union of India (1958), which held that laws imposing censorship before the publication of a newspaper or journal or curtails the survival of the same without Government’s aid would be viewed as a violation of Article 19(1)(a). Further, in Prabhu Dutta vs. Union of India (1982), the SC elucidated that freedom of press incorporates the right to know news and information regarding the administration of the Government; however, such a right is not absolute, and restrictions can be imposed in regard to the interest of the society or the individual from which the press obtains the information. 


Thus, based on these three SC verdicts, we can conclude that Article 19(1)(a) encompasses the expression freedom of press. This means that the freedom of the press includes non-interference of any authority that might influence/alter either the content or the circulation of newspapers. This defined and strengthened the purpose of the press to advance the public interest by publishing facts and opinions regarding governmental affairs or machinery, which shall provide the democratic electorate a space to make responsible decisions/judgments. Thus, recognizing the press as the fourth pillar of democracy. 

However, it should be noted that within this implicit system of freedom of press, the press cannot claim any special privileges, i.e., it is subjected to the same “reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2)” as an ordinary citizen. Thus, freedom of the press within the Indian Constitution is not absolute. 


  1. Reasonable Restrictions to Article 19(1)(a) 

The deliberation within the constituent assembly regarding the nature of Article 19 (referred to as Article 13 back then) revolved around the question – whether Article 13 should be absolute or not? The assembly members criticizing the incorporation of Article 13(2) asserted that any restrictions imposed on freedom of speech and expression shall effectively nullify the essence of Article 13(1). However, Article 13(2) was passed after certain amendments after long deliberation. 


Amongst the multiple interpretations of Article 13(2) and various amendments in its regard, amendment 454, moved by Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargav, upholds the essence of our present day Freedom of Speech and Expression. Pandit Bhargav in his motion asserted, and I quote, “I want that the words’ affect the operation of any existing law or” be deleted and also that before the word “restrictions” in clauses (3), (4), (5) and (6) the word “reasonable” be placed. I also want that in clause (2) for the word ‘any’ where it occurs for the second time, the word ‘reasonable’ be substituted.” 


The mere addition of the word “reasonable” as per Pandit Bhargav was deemed to be crucial as it will grant the judiciary the interpretative authority to assess – firstly, whether a particular Act is in the interests of the public and secondly whether the restrictions imposed by the legislature reasonable, proper and necessary in the circumstances of the case. Thus, answering to the worries reflected by Sardar Hukam Singh and Mr. Mahboob Ali Baig regarding the lack of judicial determination and granting the absolute power to the legislative-executive nexus that might deprive people to access their right promised under Article 13(1) in the original draft. The constituent assembly welcomed the amendment to incorporate the word “reasonable.”  


Thus, we can conclude that freedom of speech and expression is not absolute, and the clause of reasonable restriction under Article 19(2) adheres to three basic tenants: 

  1. Restrictions can only be imposed by or under the authority of law specified in Article 12 of the Indian Constitution. Thus, no restrictions can only be imposed by the executive alone. Further, the imposition is not final and is subjected to judicial scrutiny.
  2. Aligning to the statement “in the interest of,” restrictions must be related to the purpose or grounds specified in the clause and not beyond that. (We shall discuss this in the later segment) 
  3. Lastly, adhering to the idea of “reasonable restriction” and judicial interpretation, SC, in its verdict on the State of Madras vs. V.G. Row (1952), upheld that there is no abstract standard or general pattern of reasonableness that can be applied to all cases as the context may differ in respect to the changing socio-political circumstances, philosophy of the constitution and values of human life. 


Hence, this brings us to familiarize ourselves with the grounds of Article 19(2), upon which reasonable restrictions to freedom of speech and expression are deemed to be imposed to maintain society’s social order. It should be noted that the grounds of “sedition,” “libel,” and “slander” were removed after long deliberation and opposition. 


The grounds for reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) are:- 

  • Sovereignty and Integrity of India (This clause was inserted through the Sixteenth Amendment Act, 1963)


  • Security of the State (In Ramesh Thapar vs. State of Madras, 1950 – SC clarified that security of State refers only to serious/aggravated forms of public disorder and not minor breaches of public order tranquility such as unlawful assembly, riot, affray, etc.)


  • Friendly Relations with Foreign States (This ground was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 for prohibiting malicious propaganda against a friendly foreign country.) 


  • Public Order (The expression was inserted later by Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, after the verdict of Ramesh Thapar vs. State of Madras in 1950)


  • Decency or Morality (No test has been laid down to determine the obscenity of an act or publication)


  • Contempt of Court (Section 2 of Contempt of Court Act, 1971 defines the mentioned term; however, the followings acts do not fall under this domain – innocent publication or distribution of any matter, Publication of fair and accurate report of judicial proceedings or information relating to the proceedings in camera, fair criticism of judicial act or complaint against officers in good faith)


  • Defamation (Section 499 and 500 of IPC defines Defamation.)


  • Incitement to an Offence (This expression was inserted by Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951. Here, the word “offence” stands for any act or omission punishable by law as per General Clause Act, 1897. What constitutes incitement and the broad definition of offence has still not been addressed adequately.) 


Based on these two notable aspects, we can define the scope of freedom of speech and expression as the right to express one’s own beliefs, views or opinions, ideas freely by words of mouth, writing, printing pictures, or any other audiovisual representation, e.g., gestures, signs, etc. Subsequent judicial interventions further expanded this scope as the right to silence, implying freedom to be free from what one desires to be free from, was recognized as an inherent part of Article 19(1) through the verdict on Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala (1986). Whereas the right to criticize public affairs and governmental administration or policies was considered to fall under the ambit of free speech as per SC ruling on Brij Bhushan vs. State of Delhi (1950). In the recent judgment of PUCL vs. Union of India (2003), the right to know, i.e., the right to receive and impart information, was recognized. Thus, we can say that the Right to Information Act, 2005 is like a small limb of our fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. 


Thus, by analyzing the scope of Article 19(1) & (2), we can conclude it entails elements that empower citizens to act as the Government’s watchdog, further rendering them the means to practice free speech as an indispensable tool for self-government in a democratic society. Free speech accelerates free deliberation, which enriches true democracy. However, what holds to be of utmost importance is the guarantee to exercise freedom even after one has spoken, i.e., the liberty to express without the fear of punishment. I believe we lack this facet of free speech in contemporary times, which is slowly eroding the essence of our democracy. 


Is India the largest democracy? 

As we can see, with a current population of 1.3 billion people (still growing), India continues to uphold the title of the largest democracy. However, if we set to assess the functioning of India’s contemporary democratic structure – the Global Democracy Index 2020 (by EIU) highlights that India has slipped 12 places to 53rd position with a 6.61 index and has been labeled as a “Flawed Democracy.” This discrepancy poses a question to the quality of Indian democracy. 


As per the EIU report, the primary cause of this falling index is cited as erosion of civil liberties, including freedom of speech. Freedom House Index 2021 has demoted India to “partially free” as its score fell from 71 to 67 this year. For civil liberties, India scores 33/60. The report emphasized that sedition law and provisions of Article 19(2) were frequently used in 2020 by authorities to quiet critical voices in media; these, along with the State’s effort to obstruct “anti-national elements,” have exacerbated self-censorship. 


Amongst all the tools, laws, or measures that are undermining the essence of free speech and expression at the hand of executives – which have not only stemmed self-censorship but have also choked the guarantee of freedom after speech, we shall critically analyze the prominent ones – Sedition law and Unlawful Activities (Preventative) Act (UAPA). 


Is there a space of dissent in Indian democracy? 


  1. Sedition 


Evolution of Sedition Law in India 

The draconian law of sedition was inserted under Section 124A of IPC in 1870 by the colonial rulers to stifle dissent, and it was under this section that Indian nationalists such as Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak were arrested for criticizing colonial administrative policies. 

After independence, the Drafting Committee included the grounds of “sedition” under Article 19(2). Sri Somnath Lahiri, K.M. Munshi, Bhupinder Singh Mann firmly advocated for the omission of the word “sedition” from Article 13(2) (Later known as Article 19(2)), a motion which was later unanimously accepted by the constituent assembly. However, ironically to this consensus, section 124A continued to stay under IPC. 


Later, the aspects of sedition law in the form of “public order,” “friendly relations with foreign relations,” and “Incitement to an offense” was re-incorporated in Article 19(2) by Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951. Whereas, in 1974, the UPA government made section 124A a cognizable offense under IPC, thus authorizing the police to make arrests without a warrant. This indeed transformed India’s sedition law to be more stringent and repressive. 


What Section 124A states?

Indian sedition law states, “whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” 


Why is it problematic? 

  • Here, the underlined phrases “hatred and contempt” and “disaffection” towards the Government are ill-defined and open to multiple subjective interpretations, which empowers the executive to wield repressive power to regulate public opinion. 


  • The section fails to address what all acts can be constituted as seditious. The broad phrases “attempts to bring” and “attempts to excite” of the section were challenged in Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar (1962), the Constitutional Bench struck a balance between Article 19(1)(a) and governmental power to restrict such right on the grounds of security of State. 

The verdict emphasized the essential ingredient of “intention” in a seditious act. It stated that a seditious act amounts to “incitement to violence or a tendency to create public disorder.” 

However, the critics highlighted that the word “tendency” in the judgment was subjective. Thus, without a proper non-ambiguous parameter to measure how the tendency of a speech should be determined, it will only open it to multiple interpretations by the authorities. 


  • Section 124A, previously recognized as a non-cognizable offense, granted a scope for immediate bail. However, after 1974 sedition in India was made a non-bailable offense, i.e., a person charged under Section 124A can only be released on bail at the discretion of the criminal court. 


  • Data derived by Article-14 highlights that since 2019 sedition law has been more frequently used as a weapon to suppress opposition, dissent, and political rivals at the hands of the Government. It also statistically concludes that the average case per year has risen from 62 to 79 in the last seven years. In addition to this, according to NCRB 2019 data – only 3.3% of sedition cases culminate into conviction. 

The low conviction rate, along with the prevalence of indiscriminate arrest and pre-trial detention under the current law, certainly demonstrates how it grants excessive discretionary power to the executive.  


  • It should also be noticed that National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) introduced a new category of crime labeled as violence by “anti-national elements” in the year 2017, which had three kinds of category – North-east insurgents, Naxalites or Left Wing Extremist and terrorists (including jihadis) (Source – Scroll). This can also be equated as a mechanism to stifle the voices of the minorities, which blurs the lines between a democratic setup and majoritarian rule. 


Recommendations challenging the constitutionality of Section 124A

  • In 2011, MP D. Raja introduced a private member’s Bill – “Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill” proposing the revocation of Section 124A on the grounds that it is contradictory to the provisions of Article19(1)(a) and there are already plenty of specialized laws to deal with internal and external threats to state security. However, the attempt was not welcomed. 


Other laws (Highlighted in Law Commission Report 2018) – Section 121; 122; 123; 131; 132; 141; 153A; UAPA 1967; Contempt of Courts Act, 1971; Section 2 of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961. 


If not revoked, Section 124A can certainly be toned down by incorporating the following measures. 



Seditious actions/words should “directly” result in the use of violence or incitement to violence; MP Shashi Tharoor proposed this plea to amend the interpretative aspect of Section 124A via a private bill in 2015 titled IPC (Amendment) Bill. 

The same interpretative notion was observed under Shreya Singhal vs. UOI (2015), which asserted that only when discussion and advocacy reach the level of incitement Article 19(2) can be used on the grounds of state security. 


This definition in Shreya Singhal and Kedar Nath’s case needs to be inserted in Section 124A to mark a distinction that “mere disaffection” cannot be labeled as a seditious act.



The doctrine of mens rea should be incorporated in Section 124A, as recommended by the Law Commission of India in its 42nd Report (1971). Thus, emphasizing the analysis of the element of “intention” before labeling an act as seditious. 



India can further strengthen its mechanism to protect Article 19(1)(a) against the misuse of sedition law by subjecting restrictions (Article 19(2)) under strict scrutiny by deriving doctrines that are practiced to avert hate speech, similar to the U.S.A’s tests – Brandenburg Case highlights only “immediate lawless action” as seditious. Further, reasonable listeners test; present danger test; fighting words, chilling effect concept, etc. This will allow a proactive judicial determination. 



Lastly, section 124A is seen as a repressive relic of colonial masters, which even England abolished in 2009. India should at least erode the stringent character of the law by making it a bailable and non-cognizable offense, as recognized before the 1974 amendment.  


  1. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019


Evolution of UAPA 

The Sixteenth Amendment Act, 1963, amended Article 19(2) by inserting “Sovereignty and Integrity of India” as one of the grounds for reasonable restrictions. This later paved the way to enact Unlawful Activities and Preventive Act, 1967, which aimed to ban unlawful organizations and activities. 

Later, the Act was amended to incorporate the provisions of POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002) and TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activity Act, 1987) in 2004 and 2008, respectively. During these amendments, provisions regarding the maximum period in police custody, detention without charge sheet, and restrictions on bail were added in the parent Act (UAPA, 1967), widening its scope to counter terrorist activities and organizations. 


However, the most controversial 2019 Amendment Act received the assent of the President on 8th August 2019 and was thereby incorporated in the parent Act, empowering the Government to designate an individual as “terrorist” without trial, further allowing NIA to conduct a raid and seize properties of the suspect upon the approval of Director-General of NIA, unlike the parent Act which only dealt with organizations/associations and required the permission of DGP of the State, respectively. 


Why is it problematic? 


The definition of “terrorist act” under Section 15 of UAPA is broad and vague, as the phrases “Any act” or “by any other means of whatever nature to cause” lack a definitive meaning. Further, the phrase “likely to threaten” or “likely to strike terror in people” denotes that the actual commission of an act is not a pre-requisite for a terrorist act; rather, even instigating terror amounts to terrorism. 


Further, this designation can also be declared on mere speculation by the Central Government on the grounds of preventive measures. This grants uncertain power to the state authorities to detain, ban and arrest people or organizations upon their subjective interpretation/knowledge of their involvement in terrorism. 


The vagueness of this definition challenges human rights, personal liberty, and morality in the light of the 2019 amendment as the criteria of designating an individual as a “terrorist” remains the same as that of unlawful or terrorist organizations/associations under the parent Act, 1967. As the Act follows the same procedure for an individual and an organization, it fails to recognize that the former is entitled with Fundamental Rights under PART III of the Constitution, which are being violated under the current provision of UAPA. 



Section 35 of UAPA endows Central Government with authority to declare a person or an organization a terrorist/terrorist organization via issuing a notice in the Official Gazette under Fourth Schedule and First Schedule, respectively. 


An individual or organization can only challenge this designation under Section 36, “denotificiation.” However, it should be noted that the Central Government prescribes the procedure for admission and disposal of an application. Whereas upon refusal, an applicant can approach to set up a review committee for its plea, ironically, the Government itself appoints the Chairperson of this committee despite being High Court Judge.


Such massive discretionary power at the hands of the executive, along with vague definitions, certainly highlights the institutional bias and draws a blurry line between the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech in Article 19(1) and terrorist action. Further, designating a person before the commencement of trial and lack of a judicial mechanism to defend oneself against such accusation violates the fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21.  



Section 43(D)(5) of UAPA dismisses the bail petition of an accused person on the grounds that the accusation filed against the person is prima facie true. Thus, granting a way to deny bail on mere suspicion. 


Further, Section 43(D)(2) offers a maximum 90 days investigative window, after which a public prosecutor can demand an extension of up to 180 days by submitting a report on the “progress of the investigation.” This shows that a person can be detained for 180 days without filing a charge sheet, which violates the right to fair and speedy trial embedded in Article 21. Whereas the phrase “progress of investigation” is again ill-defined and vague. Without a clear depiction of what the minimum threshold of progress is needed, the authorities can misuse this clause. 


Section 43(D)(5) & (2) highlights that such clauses can easily be misused to silence dissent and opposition, as seen during Delhi riots 2019 in the light of Anti-CAA NRC agitation. Such clauses of pre-trial detention based on suspicion without proving the allegation and directing the burden of proof on the accused hampers the civil liberties of democratic structure, further increasing the possibility of custodial violence. 



  • MISUSE OF UAPA, 2019

According to NCRB (Data 2014-2020), 6,900 cases were registered under UAPA, with the highest number of cases – 1,226, recorded in 2019, out of which the charge sheet was filed only in 9% of cases. The conviction rate of UAPA cases lies at 29.2%. 

It should be noted that between the years 2014-20, the average number of cases per year stands at 985. 

Further, The Wire supported the claim of civil liberties activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who gave a detailed account as to how UAPA was being selectively misused against Dalits, tribals, and minorities. This certainly questions the democratic practice of our country.


What can be done? 

  • UAPA, 2019 should be read in consonance with Article 21 and Article 19, as observed in two recent cases. 


  • Delhi High Court, while granting bail to student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, and Asif Iqbal Tanha, who were booked under UAPA on May 2020 for organizing anti-CAA NRC protests, raised its concern by stating that it appears, “the State has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity. If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril.”


  • In K.A. Najeeb vs. UOI, 2021, SC held that despite bail restrictions under UAPA, the courts can still grant bail on the grounds of violation of the fundamental rights of the accused. 


  • The vagueness of the phrases should be reconsidered and reconstructed in a non-ambiguous manner through judicial interpretation. The denotification provision needs to shed institutional bias via a proactive judicial intervention.


  • Further, amendment 2019 stands in violation of PART III of the constitution. It is essential to recognize that, if not repealed, a separate set of provisions should be recognized for individuals under UAPA, which should be less stringent and read in accordance with PART III. Further, a proper judicial mechanism should be devised, which not only protects an individual’s right to a fair and speedy trial but should also adhere to the universal principle of human right “innocent until proven guilty” recognized by International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, 1967. 


This clearly shows how sedition law and UAPA 2019 are acting as the source of arbitrary governmental power, forming a mechanism to regulate public opinion either by suppressing dissent or by inducing fear of punishment and instilling self-censorship on the personal beliefs of citizens or media. Both ways are infringing the fundamental right to speech and expression, causing detrimental effects on our democratic structure and society. Therefore, it is crucial for the Indian Government to exercise these laws along with the provision of Article 19(2) with utmost caution only in the circumstances deemed to be reasonable. Therefore it is crucial to follow the path of accommodative and deliberative politics by upholding the democratic virtue of accountability.



With this, we can conclude that freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) upholds the essence of Indian democracy as it grants the forum to open and free deliberation. Whereas the provisions of “reasonable restrictions” under Article 19(2) are deemed to be crucial to maintain not just societal social order but also to guarantee that the liberty of one does not offend the liberty of the other, especially in times when hate speech and false information or fake news are inciting communal violence and exacerbating disharmony.  


However, such restrictions should be imposed as per the three basic tenets of reasonableness under judicial determination instead of the current open executive interpretation trend. Whereas, few provisions of Article 19(2) are vaguely defined and are opened to multiple interpretations – such as sovereignty and integrity of India, Public Order, Decency or Morality, Incitement of an Offense (upon which repressive laws of Sedition and UAPA have been enacted) have created loopholes to stifle dissent, criticism, and opposition against the Government. Whereas the chilling effect of stringent punishments curtails freedom after speech creating a dark hole of self-censorship for self-protection.  

Fundamental Rights should not be curtailed due to the text’s ambiguity. Vague rules harm the core of fair trial and jeopardize the rule of law by allowing selective prosecution and interpretation based on discriminatory policies framed by officials and judges’ personal bias. It is imperative for us to limit the excessive discretionary power of the executive to end this ambiguous cycle of vaguely defined provisions. Judicial scrutiny and guidelines should provide a detailed, reasonable, and necessary interpretation of words under Article 19(2) in order to preserve the democratic tool of free speech.

Charu Damor, currently a third year student pursuing B.A.(Hons) Political Science from Zakir Husain Delhi College.