Limits To Freedom of Press

Limits To Freedom of Press

All citizens of India have the right to freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. It also guarantees us the following rights:

  • Right to assemble peacefully and without arms.
  • Right to form associations or unions.
  • Right to move freely throughout the territory of India.
  • Right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
  • Right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression can be suspended on the following grounds:

  • Sovereignty
  • Integrity
  • Security
  • Friendly relations with foreign States
  • Public order
  • Decency or morality
  • In relation to contempt of court
  • Defamation or incitement to an offence

Freedom of Press is guaranteed as fundamental right under Article 19 as right to freedom of speech and expression.

As Press has all freedom to express the things going in the world and their existence is very much important to let people know what is going on apart from their lives. The social causes, solution discussion on available problem, general knowledge etc. these things are reachable to common men and women with the help of Press. There are few but major issues with which media is involved, are as follows:

  1. Media trial
  2. Sting operations

Media Trial

Nowadays media is being involved in taking interviews of accused; it is being involved in collecting evidences, recreating scenes of crime and even judging or presenting accused as convicted its own due to which accused must face defamation even if he/she has not been convicted of any crime by a court of law.

Sometimes due to this judges get biased in their judgement. For example, in the recent Ryan school incident entire management got arrested. Even due to media hype lawyers was not ready to protect school bus driver. We can see another example of Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar, they were behind bars for over 7 years. The CBI court had given verdict in under the influence of media hype.

In the Sahara case, Supreme Court also said that media should not start its own trial.

They can report what is happened in the court. This kind of media trial is contempt of court. Once the judgement is given then media can do so.

Sting Operations

It can be said that a Sting operation is like a “double-edged sword”. In such cases, there are chances that both the parties will end up getting their hands burnt.

Let us consider a case, when somebody is requesting again and again to meet a public servant, and cameras have been fitted at the place where the public servant is called.

After many attempts to make them say the wrong things and/or accept bribes, the public servant is caught on camera. In this way one can be cheated and trapped in a planned manner.

Abetting as public servant to take a bribe is a punishable offence even if the sting operation is done for a noble cause. As per the law, no one has the right to test the integrity of anyone. Only government, CBI and Police can perform a sting operation as per the procedure prescribed by law.

According to the Supreme Court, when some incident occurs where the sting operation is carried out without any planning, and spontaneous actions are recorded then it is legal.

In case, when public servant does not take bribe then according to section 511 of Indian penal code (IPC) it is an attempt to bribe, and one can be sent behind the bars for this.

Currently the government is formulating a law on sting operations.


Freedom of press is guaranteed as a fundamental right within right to freedom of speech and expression as per Article 19. this is subject to restrictions when Public order, morality and public interest at large is considered. So, the media should work to broadcast correct information to the people, without being judgmental itself.


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