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Report No. 101

5.20. A commonwealth precedent: the Constitution of Antigua.-

We were also interested to find that in one of the countries of the "New Commonwealth", namely Antigua, the Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression in terms which avoid the use of expressions necessarily confined to natural persons. Section 10 of the Antigua Constitution1 reads as follows2:-

"(1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence and other means of communication.

(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision-

(a) that is reasonably required

(i) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;

(ii) for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons, or the private lives of persons concerned in legal proceedings, preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of the courts or regulating telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting, television or other means of communication, public exhibitions or public entertainments; or

(b) that imposes restrictions upon public officers."

Apart from the above section of the Constitution of Antigua, another section-section 15-of its Constitution came up for construction before the Privy Council.3 Section 15, dealing with compulsory acquisition of property, uses the expression "person" and the specific point at issue was whether this expression would include a body corporate. The Privy Council held that it was so included. It may be mentioned that the interpretation section of the Constitution of Antigua (like the Indian Constitution) expressly made the Interpretation Act applicable for the interpretation of the Constitution. Similar constitutional precedents are found in other countries of the new Commonwealth.4

1. Antigua Constitution Order 1967. [S.I., 1967, No. 2251

2. See Margaret Dz Merieux Delineation of the Rights to Freedom of Expression, (1980) Public Law 359, 360.

3. Attorney-General v. Antigun Times Ltd., (1975) 3 All ER 81 (PC).

4. For other precedents, see Halsbury's, 4th Edn., Vol. 6, pp. 476-483, paras. 1023-1026.

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

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