45 N. Ir. Legal Q. 327 (1994)
Freedom of Expression and Censorship: Some Aspects of the Indian Experience

handle is hein.journals/nilq45 and id is 337 raw text is: FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND CENSORSHIP

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND CENSORSHIP:
SOME ASPECTS OF THE INDIAN EXPERIENCE
Freedom of expression is not a new-fangled fad of hi-tech
investigative journalists. It is not an exclusive western value nor is it a luxury
of the affluent. It has been humanity's yearning, in times ancient and
modem. Cato's anguished cri de coeur, Where a man cannot call his
tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own, articulates an
almost universal lament.
Paradoxically, humanity's yearning for expression is matched by the
urge for its suppression, and censorship has also been an ancient and almost
universal phenomenon. It has appeared in one form or another at different
times in different societies governed by different systems. Plato was its
respectable exponent. Milton, who thundered in his famous Areopagitica,
Give me liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to
conscience, above all liberties, became Cromwell's official censor. What is
the explanation for this paradox?
Freedom of expression and censorship pull in different directions. Their
aims and purposes are conflicting. For ten people who wish to speak and
spread the truth as they see it, there are a thousand people who do not wish to
hear it and do not want others to hear it, especially if what is said or written
challenges conventional dogmas and practices. Freedom of expression is
necessary for the attainment of truth, for individual fulfilment, for
participation by members of society in political or social decision-
making, and for effective functioning of democracy. Indeed, it is one of the
most cherished values of a free democratic society, whose basic postulate is
that government shall be based on the consent of the governed. Consent
should not only be free but should also be well informed by debate and
discussion.
Freedom of expression, if it is to be effective and real, must have a
capacious content. It cannot be restricted to expression of thoughts and ideas
which are accepted and acceptable but must extend to those that offend,
shock or disturb the State or any section of the population. It must accord
an accommodation as hospitable to the thought which we hate as that which
it assures to the orthodoxies of the day. It is essential that there should be
dissemination of information and ideas from different and antagonistic
sources coupled with the right to receive them. Right conclusions are more
likely to emerge from a multitude of voices than through one voice preaching
1. Handyside v United Kingdom [1976] 1 EHRR 737.

Winter, 19941

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