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Report No. 101

1.2. The background.-

In the Indian Constitution, Article 19(1) guarantees to citizens six freedoms in all. Of these, the first is the right to freedom of speech and expression in Article 19(1)(a). This right is subject to the power of the State to make a law imposing reasonable restrictions on the right in the interest of the various considerations set out in Article 19(2). We are not, in the present inquiry, concerned with the scope and ambit of the restrictions that can be imposed by law on the freedom of speech and expression. What we propose to deal with is a restriction made explicit in the Constitution itself, namely, that the provisions of the Article 19 can be availed of only by citizens.

As will be apparent from a brief resume of the judicial decisions on the subject that will follow1 in subsequent paragraphs of this Report, the use of the word "citizen" in Article 19 has had the effect of leaving corporate bodies out of the scope of the article. The result is, that one important segment of the nation does not have any constitutional protection in respect of speech and expression. Institutions and organisations, being impersonal in character, cannot qualify for "citizenship". The protection of Article 19 is, thus, not available to them, and is confined to natural persons, on a reading of the judicial pronouncements. In any case, the position in this regard is nebulous2.

1. Chapter 3, infra.

2. Paras. 3.1 to 3.5 and also Chapter 4, infra.

Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Constitution - Recommendation to Extend it to Indian Corporations Back

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