Feb 06 Editorial Analysis

Beating down critical journalism, creative freedom:


  1. A young freelance journalist was arrested and charged with lacking appropriate media credentials on the days of the Republic that trauma, points of entry into Delhi.
  2.  The curious deference of the judiciary is part of the precariousness of the rights to freedom and creative freedom in India today.
  3. The Some locations had lethal iron nails embedded into the road and trenches dug deep to prevent the Journalist and ingress of farmers long encamped around the capital city.

About Media clampdown:

  1. A few days after the riots, nine senior journalists were charged under the law of sedition, for reporting the ambiguous circumstances of the sole fatality in the riots.
  2. The Home Ministry decreed that only journalists with press credentials granted by the central government could legitimately report on the farmers’ agitation.
  3. A number of social media pages run by newspapers and websites were blocked by executive order.
  4.  The legal process of securing injunctions began, along with an unsubtle threat that employees of the social media company, Twitter, could face arrest for failure to comply.
  5. The tragedy of a government that remains deaf to the anxieties of a significant section of Indian citizens was transformed into farce.

Meaning of Sedition Law in India:

  1. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of sedition. It lays down that,
  2. 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 in India,
  3. Parson  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”.
  4.  The Case in Devi Saran v/s State AIR 1954 Pat 254, the SC Court has held that Section 124A imposes reasonable restriction on the interest of public order & therefore it is protected under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution.

Freedom of the press in India:

  1. The rights of the press in India arise out of the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  2.  The press has a variety of rights including the right to publish, right to circulate, right to receive information, right to advertise, right to dissent, etc.
  3. Some of the major laws related to mass media in India include the following:  First Press Regulations, Gagging Act, Indian Press Act, Vernacular Press Act, Official Secrets Act, Press and Registration of Books Act, Sea Customs Act, Contempt of Court.
  4. Media law covers an area of law which involves media of all types (TV, film, music, publishing, advertising, internet & new media, etc.), and stretches over various legal fields, including but not limited to corporate, finance, intellectual property, publicity and privacy.
  5. Social media law India is regulated by the Information Technology Act which was enacted in the year 2000 to regulate, control and deal with the issues arising out of the IT. Social networking media is an within the meaning of Indian information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000)

Restrictions on Freedom of Press in India:

  1.  The freedom of press comes within the ambit of freedom of speech & expression. In a democracy, freedom of press is highly essential as it acts as a watchdog on the three organs of a democracy viz. the legislature, the executive & the judiciary.
  2.  But, the freedom of press is not absolute in nature. It is subject to certain restrictions which are mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. The following are the grounds of restrictions laid down in Article 19(2) :

    Sovereignty & Integrity of India
    Security of the State

Friendly relations with Foreign States

Public Order
Decency or Morality
Contempt of Court

  1. The grounds of ‘Public Order’ & ‘Friendly relations with Foreign States’ was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act,1951.
  2. While the ground of ‘Sovereignty & Integrity of India’ was added by the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963.

Imperfections made worse:

  1. The “rights to freedom” granted under Article 19 of the Constitution: free speech, free movement, and peaceful assembly.
  2. The Articles in the Fundamental Rights chapter, Article 19 includes a non obstante clause: notwithstanding all its promises, each of the rights comes with certain conditions attached.
  3.  The First Amendment to the Constitution, when the government of a fledgling nation sought to negotiate the fine line between freedom and necessity.
  4. The matters of sedition, the first impulse of the judiciary in the afterglow of the Republic’s emergence, were to strike the law down.
  5. The Article 13 of the Constitution annulled every law that was inconsistent with the fundamental rights chapter and the Patna High Court was on solid ground when it held the sedition clause in criminal law unconstitutional.
  6. To possibilities of disorder, the Supreme Court reinstated the law, but held it applicable only to “activities as would be intended to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence”.
  7. The Gujarat High Court in 2012 upheld this precedent in a matter involving the country’s largest English language newspaper, The Times of India, after sedition charges brought by the Commissioner of Police in Ahmadabad city.
  8.  The Court added that the Constitution protected strong commentary on “measures or acts of the Government, or its agencies, so as to ameliorate the condition of the people or to secure the cancellation or alteration of those acts by lawful means”.

State’s new weapon:

  1. He was charged with sedition and other offences, and the statutes invoked.
  2. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act could potentially result in indefinite detention.
  3. New weapon like IT Social networking media is a within the meaning of Indian information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000), also use.

Angle of religion:

  1. The Politics of religious offence constitute another clear threat to freedom of speech and expression.
  2. The arrest of a stand-up comic, Munawar Faruqui, in Indore, for jokes that he did not crack, represents a particular depth of absurdity. hearings in the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
  3. The S. Rangarajan versus Jagjivan Ram case in 1989, the Supreme Court declined to embrace a doctrine of censorship.
  4. The benchmark for judging the potential for offence had to be a “reasonable” person and not someone of “weak and vacillating” mind. 
  5.  In the case of the TV serial, Tandav¸ whose producers and cast face charges despite multiple apologies, The Court has now chosen to underline the conditional nature of the free speech right.

Another blow:

  1. The regulating the right to freedom of movement, the Supreme Court has encountered unanticipated turbulence.
  2. While hearing a petition seeking the dispersal of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Court ruled that expressions of dissent should take place in “designated places only”.
  3. In The ongoing farmers’ protests, the Court baulked, a ruling that the protests were unconstitutional would have been the legal basis for a coercive dispersal of the farmers.
  4. While The hearing a recent matter involving hate speech, the Chief Justice of India observed that the Court is trying to discourage litigation under Article 32, which enables any citizen to invoke the writ jurisdiction of the higher judiciary when fundamental rights are threatened.


  1. The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, “The role of journalism should be service. The Press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges the whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy.”
  2. There are three pillars of a democracy viz. the legislative, the executive & the judiciary. The press acts as the fourth pillar of a democracy. The press has played many significant roles in delivering justice, public welfare etc
  3. This ambivalence articles 32 “that B.R. Ambedkar called the heart and soul of the Constitution”, and the curious judicial deference to the political executive, is central parts of the story of how precarious the rights to freedom are today.

A prisoner’s tragedy, a nation’s shame.


  1. It has been in prison for almost 30 years without proved for his role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi during the 1991 election campaign.
  2. The heart of the injustice being inflicted on Perarivalan is that government agencies have continued to insist on his incarceration despite being unsure of his role.

Prolonged injustice

  1. The charges of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Perarivalan  for TADA, were upheld by the trial court along with the conspiracy to commit murder under IPC.
  2.  The course of many rounds of litigation, his conviction only for the conspiracy to commit murder under the IPC has been sustained and he has served 30 years as part of his life imprisonment sentence and his death sentence was commuted in February 2014.
  3. While the confessions to a police officer are inadmissible as evidence under the Indian Evidence Act to protect people from coerced police confessions,
  4. The terrorism legislations such as TADA and POTA made confessions to the police admissible as long as it was made to an officer not lower than the rank of Superintendent of Police.

Prisoner’s conditions in India:

  1. NCRB 2019 data says there are 1350 functional jails in India, with a total capacity of approx. 4 Lakh prisoners but actual strength exceeds 4.78lakh. In that 4.3% are women and 69.05% (approx. 3.3 lakh) were under trials and only 30.11% are convicted for crime.
  2. Indian prisons face three long-standing structural constraints: overcrowding, thanks to a high percentage of under trials in the prison population, understaffing and underfunding.
  3. The inevitable outcome is sub-human living conditions, poor hygiene, and violent clashes between the inmates and jail authorities.
  4. Overcrowding, prolonged detention of under-trial prisoners, unsatisfactory living conditions, lack of treatment programmes .
  5. Also allegations of indifferent and even inhuman approach of prison staff have repeatedly attracted the attention of the critics over the years.

A suspect ‘confession’(justice delayed is justice denied):

  1. The trail of this Case was damning until Mr. Thiagarajan came out in November 2013 and made the startling revelation that he had not recorded Perarivalan’s ‘confession’ accurately.
  2. It was a glaring omission that completely changed the nature of Perarivalan’s involvement. In effect, Perarivalan was convicted based on a manipulated confession to a police officer.
  3. We have a situation where there is an acknowledgment at the highest levels that the origins and the making of the bomb remain unknown, and yet Perarivalan continues to be in prison for purchasing batteries whose use remains a mystery.
  4. Having served 30 years of life imprisonment for the conspiracy to murder, his effort to get a remission under the Code Of Criminal Procedure was rejected by the Central Government in April 2018.
  5. On February 4, the Centre informed the Court that the Governor had finally considered Perarivalan’s pardon and had decided that the President alone had the power to consider such an application.
  6. It is a shocking abdication of a constitutional duty and a blatantly unconstitutional manoeuvre to ignore the advice of the State government, which the Governor is constitutionally bound to follow.

Life in jail

  1. Perarivalan was 19 years old when he was imprisoned, and 30 years later is still fighting for his freedom. In those 30 years,
  2.  In his book, He then asks us, who can ever give him back his life. We must ask ourselves why Perarivalan continues to be incarcerated when we know that his confession was manipulated,
  3. The government agencies themselves admit not knowing the origins of the bomb, and that Perarivalan is not part of the investigations on the bomb.
  4.  It is our fear that releasing Perarivalan would be a collective admission of our failure.

Rights of Prisoner’s:

  1. Cruel and Unusual Punishments.
  2. Drawing and Quartering.
  3. Sexual Harassment or Sex Crimes right.
  4. Right to Complain About Prison Conditions and Access to the Courts.
  5. Disabled Prisoners.
  6. Medical and Mental Health Care.
  7. Human Rights.
  8.  Discrimination

Amaitava Roy panel on prison reforms:

  1. In 2018, the Supreme Court appointed this panel. The committee submitted its report on February 2020 with major recommendations includes.
  2. For overcrowding
    1. Special fast-track courts should be set up to deal with petty offences.
    2. Lawyers – prisoner’s ratio: there should be at least one lawyer for every 30 prisoners.
  3. For Understaffing
    1. The Supreme Court should pass directions to start the recruitment process against vacancies
    2. There should be use of video-conferencing for trial.
  4. For Prisoners
    1. Every new prisoner should be allowed a free phone call a day to his family members to see him through his first week in jail.
    2. Alternative punishments should be explored.


  1. Mahatma Gandhi advocates “Hate the Crime and Not the Criminal “men are born equal and are endowed by their creator with some basic rights.
  2. These rights are mainly right to life and liberty, but if any person doesn’t comply with ethics of the society then that person is deprived of these rights with proper punishment.
  3. Many experts believe that the main objective of prisons is to bring the offenders back to the mainstream of the society.
  4. The Various workshops had been organized by the State Government in collaboration with NGO’s to bring reforms in the current prison systems.


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