SUPPRESSING DISSENT – THE CRIMINALISATION OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION IN INDIA

Aakaansha Arya

Bennet University, Greater Noida, U.P.

Abstract

Democratic dissent is not disloyalty; it is instead a positive civic duty. Dissent and democracy are synonyms in a liberal-democratic social order. Yet, we see that the governments at state and national level do not always share these values and instead use draconian laws and criminalise the protected right of the citizens of speech and expressions. There was no right to freedom of speech and expression until the departure of the British and the birth of our Constitution, wherein Article 19(1)(a) provides that; “All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”. This freedom of speech and expression comes under the preview of law and forms the pillar of any democracy. Without citizens having the power in their hands to criticise the government or their decisions and policies, the main objective of democracy gets violated.
In this paper, the researcher’s main focus is to draw an analysis on how the prevailing draconian laws in India are used to criminalise free speech. It will document examples of vague and overboard laws that are used to stifle political dissent, restrict activities of peaceful expression, harass journalists, arbitrarily taking down internet services in territories and to target marginalised communities and religious minorities. It will further give recommendations to the government to avoid overboard use of such law and protect peaceful expression. 


Keywords
Democracy, Government, Section, Charge, Criminalise, Dissent, Expression, Speech, Amend, Silence, Article.