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CENTRAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH BIHAR

GAYA 823001

Right to Information as a part of Freedom of


Speech and Expression in India

SUBMISSION TO

Mrs. Poonam Kumari

Asst. Professor

School of Law and Governance

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW – I

ASSIGNMENT BY - JATA SHANKAR


(2nd Sem)

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ENROLLMENT NO :-
CUSB1713125017

ACKNOWLEDGEMNT

Every project big or small is successful largely due to the effort of a number of wonderful soul
who have always given their valuable advice and lent their helping hands.

I owe my sense of gratitude to almighty god for showing his blessing throughout the completion
of this project. I am highly indebted to “Mrs Poonam Kumari” for her guidance and constant
supervision as well as for providing necessary information regarding the project during class
lectures. However, it would not have been possible without the kind support and help of many
individuals and organizations. I would also like to extend my gratitude to my colleague,
librarian, and non- teaching staff who have willingly helped me out with their abilities. This
research would not have been possible without all mentioned above. The subject matter of the
project work is very revolutionary and it helped me a lot to know and learn about articles and
provisions mentioned under Indian constitution.

Last but not the least I place a deep sense of gratitude to my family members who has been
constant source of inspiration during the presentation of this project.

Jata Shankar
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Type chapter title (level 1)......................................................................................................................1
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Introduction

Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, emails,
opinions, advices, press-release, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples,
models, data materials held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body
when can be accessed by a public authority. 1

The right to Information Act 2005 is unique and one to its kind. It had been enacted for the
commence of the citizens of the country and to maintain the transparency between the
government working and the public who are the beneficiaries , As the Act aims at making the
government transparent and more accountable, the effective use of it would in a long run, curb
corruption. If we don’t have information on how our government and public institution
functions, we cannot express any informed opinion on it. Democracy revolves around the basic
idea of citizens being at the centre of governance. And the freedom of the press in an essential
element for a democracy to function. It is the thus obvious that the main reason for a free press is
to ensure that citizens are informed. Thus it clearly shows that the citizen’s right to know is of
Apex Importance. 2

India had developed Democratic Republic; democracy requires an informed citizenry and
transparency of Information which are vital to its functioning and also to curtain corruption and
to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.

1
The Right to Information Act, 2005 (Act No. 22 of 2005)
2
Anushree Adhau, Right to Information Act 2005, an overview (2016) (unpublished, LLM 1st year Nalsar Hyderabad)

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Information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interest including efficient
operation of the governments, optimum use of fiscal resources and the preservation of
confidentiality of sensitive information.

It is necessary to harmonize these conflicting interests while preserving the democratic ideal.
Therefore, it is expedient to provide for furnishing certain information to citizens who deserve to
have it.3

Right to Information is a fundamental Right and guaranteed as per Article 19 and 21 of the
constitution of India. It is the part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression
recognised by the constitution and various decisions. This act has repeated the freedom of Information
Act 2002.

The 2002 Act does not emphasise active interaction in educating people about the possibilities under the
new Act, it could just remain on paper. The Act also reinforces the controlling role of the government
officials, who retains wide discretionary power to withhold information.

However, it can be said without any hesitation that India has finally woken up to realize that right of
Information is a key component in the attainment of economic social and political rights of an Individual
as well as the community at large. 4

3
Dr, J. N Barowala, commentary on the Right to Information Act 3rd Edn. Act(Page no. 3) (New Delhi : Universal Law Publishing
Co. Pvt. Ltd, 2012)
4
Anushree Adhau, Right to Information Act 2005 - an overview (2016) (unpublished, LLM 1st year; Nalsar Hyderabad)

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Right to Information and Constitution of India

Right to Information is a fundamental right and guaranteed as per article 19 & 21 of the
constitution of India. It is a part of fundamental right to freedom and expression recognized by
the constitution and various supreme court decisions.

The Right to Information Act 2005 is a law enacted by the parliament of India giving citizens of
India access to records of central government and state government, The Act applies to all states
and union of territories of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir - which is covered
under a state-level law. Under the provisions of Act, any citizen (including citizens within J&K)
may request information from a “public authority” (Instrumentality of state) which is required to
reply expeditiously or within 30 days. 5

As India is a welfare state it is the duty of the government to protect & enhance the welfare of the
people. Acceptance of the Statues of government is very important to regulate it in a democratic
society because without knowledge of any law it cannot be accepted.

According to James Madison Knowledge “Will for ever govern ignorance and a people who
meant to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power of knowledge gives.”

5
Anushree Adhau, Right to Information Act 2005, an overview (2016) (unpublished, LLM 1st

year Nalsar Hyderabad)

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Article 19 of the constitution of India has been interpreted to mean that right to Information is
one of the essential ingredients of Article 19(1).

Article 19 ( Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc)

1. All citizens shall had the right -

a. To freedom of speech and expression

1. Nothing in sub clause (a) of the Clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law,
or present the state from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable
reconstruction on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests
of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relation with
foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court,
defamation or incitement to an offence.

Supreme Court held that Right to Information is part of Right to Information is in Article 19(1)
(a) The State under clause (2) of Article 19 of the constitution. However, is entitled to impose
reasonable restrictions, inter alia, in the interest of the state.

Right of Information is a facet for freedom of “speech and expression” as contained in Article 19
(1)(a). A citizen has a fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving
information.6

It emcompasses freedom of speech because it is necessary that the citizen have the benefit of
plurality of views and a range of opinion in all public issues.
6
Dr, J. N Barowala, commentary on the Right to Information Act 3rd Edn. Act(Page no. 3) (New Delhi : Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd,
2012)

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In secretory Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Government of India vs cricket
association of Bengal7.

Honorable Supreme Court, with regard to telecasting of events such as cricket and hockey, held
as under :-

“ The Democracy cannot exist unless all citizens have right to participate in the affairs of the
polity of the country. The right to participate in the affairs of the country is meaningless unless
the citizens are well informed on all sides of the issues, in the respect of which they are called
upon to express their views. One sided information, disinformation, misinformation and non-
information, all equally create an uninformed citizenry which makes democracy a farce when
medium of information is monopolised either by partisan central authority or by private
individuals or oligarchy organisation. This is particularly so in a country like ours where about
65% of the population is illiterate and hardly 1.5% of the population has an access to the print
media which is not subject to pre-censorship.“

This Right to Information is not absolute , in case of public interest it can be denied as well as
when the information leads to infringement of public security.

This principle of public security is evolved and now it has been recognised that while a public
servant may be subject to a duty of confidentiality, this duty does not extend to remaining silent
regarding corruption of other public servants . Society is entitled to know and public interest is
better served if corruption or maladministration is exposed.8

The right to information provided by the parliament under section 33A of the Representation of
People Actin regard to the pending criminal cases and past envolvement in such cases is
7
The Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Govt. of India vs cricket Association of Bengal (1995) AIR 123S - 1995
SCC(2) 161
8
Dinesh trivedi vs union of india , (1997) 4 SCC 306 : JT 1997 (4) SC 237 .

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reasonably adequate to safeguard right to information vested in voters/citizens9. The right to get
information in democracy is recognised all throughout and it is a natural right flowing from the
concept of democracy.

Evolution of right to information in India

The legal position with regard to RTI has developed through several decisions given by the
supreme court in the context of the right to freedom of speech and expression [Article 19(1) of

9
People’s union for civil liberties(PUCL) v. Union of India, AIR 2003 SC 2326 :2003 (4) SCC 399.

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the constitution ], which has been said to be the obverse side of the right to know, and one cannot
be exercised without the other. The interesting aspect of these judicial pronouncements has been
that the scope of the right has gradually widened.

The development of RTI as a part of the constitutional law of the country started with a petition
by the media to the supreme court for enforcement of certain logistical implications of the right
to freedom of speech and expression which would permit them to challenge governmental orders
for control of news print, ban on distribution of papers, etc. It was through these cases that the
concept of the public’s right to know developed.

In Bennett Coleman and company V Union of India, the petitioner, a publishing house
bringing out one of the leading dailies (The times of India), challenged the government’s news
print policy which put restrictions on the acquisition, sale, and consumption of news print. This
was challenged as restricting the petitioner’s right to freedom of freedom of speech and
expression. The court struck down the news print control order saying that it directly affected the
petitioner’s right to freely publish and circulate their paper. In that, it violated their right to
freedom of speech and expression.

The Judges also remarked : “It is indisputable that by freedom of the press meant the right of all
citizens to speak, publish, and express their views and freedom of speech and expression
includes with its compass the right of all citizens to read and be informed.”

The clear enunciation of the fundamental right to information was seen in the State of Uttar
Pradesh V Raj Narain and Others. In this case, the respondent had summoned documents
pertaining to the security arrangements and the expenses incurred thereon of the then Prime
Minister. The Supreme Court, in examining the case, considered the question of whether
privilege could be claimed by the government of Utter Pradesh under Section 123 of The
Evidence Act in respect of what has been described for the sake of brevity to be the Blue Book,
which contained guidelines for the protection of Prime Minister while on tour and travel.

The court observed that while there are overwhelming arguments for giving to the Executive the
power to determine what matters may prejudice public security, those arguments do not sanction
giving the Executive exclusive power to determine what matters may prejudice public interest.
Once considerations of national security are left out, there are few matters of public interest
which cannot be safely discussed in public. The Court further stated that ‘the right to know
which is derived from the concept of freedom of speech, though not absolute, is a factor which
should make one wary, when secrecy is claimed for transactions which can, at any rate, have no
repercussion on public security’. Justice KK Mathew pertinently observed, ‘in a government of
responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the public must be responsible for their conduct,
there can be but few secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public act,
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every thing that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know
the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing’.

To cover matters of routine business with a veil of secrecy is not in the interest of public. Such
secrecy can seldom be legitimately desired. The responsibility of officials to explain or to justify
their acts is the chief safeguard against oppression and corruption.

In Indian Express Newspaper(Bombay) Private Ltd and Others, etc V Union of India and
Others,

The supreme court observed, ’the public interest in freedom of discussion of which the freedom
of the press is one aspect stems from the necessity that the members of a democratic society
should be sufficiently informed that they may influence intelligently the decisions which may
affect themselves’.

The Court stated that Freedom of Expression serves four broad social purposes :

(a) It helps an individual attain self-fulfilment;


(b) It assist in the discovery of truth;
(c) It strengthens the capacity of an individual in participating in decision-making;
(d) It provides a mechanism by which it would be possible to establish a reasonable balance
between stability and social change. All members of society should be able to form their
own beliefs and communicate them freely to others.

In sum, the fundamental principle involved here is the people’s right to know.

In Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India and Others,


the Supreme Court considered the question of the right to telecast sports events. The Court
summarised the law on the Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(1)(a) as
restricted by article 19(2) as:

The freedom of speech and expression includes right to acquire information and to disseminate
it. Freedom of Speech and expression is necessary, for self-fulfilment.it enables people to
contribute to debate on social and moral issues. It is the best way to find a truest model of
anything, since it is only through it that the widest possible range of ideas can circulate. It is the
only vehicle of political discourse so essential to democracy. Equally important artistic and
scholarly endeavours of all sorts.

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Further, the court observed, ‘the right to freedom of speech and expression also includes the right
to educate, to inform and to entertain and also the right to be educated, informed and entertained.
The former is the right of the telecaster and the latter that of the viewers.

Thereafter, the court held:

True democracy cannot exist unless all citizens have a right to participate in the affairs of the
polity of the country. The right to participate in the affairs of the country is meaningless unless
the citizens are well informed on all sides of the issues, in respect of which they are called upon
to express their views. One-sided information, disinformation, misinformation and non-
information all equally create an uninformed citizenry which makes democracy a farce when
medium of information is monopolized either by a partisan central authority or by private
individuals or oligarchic organizations. This is particularly so in a country like ours where about
65 percent of the population is illiterate and hardly 1.5 percent of the population has an access to
the print media which is not subject to pre-censorship.

In Dinesh Trivedi, M.P. and Others V Union of India and Others, the Supreme Court dealed
with a petition for disclosure of a report submitted by Vohra Committee chaired by Home
Secretary N.N. Vohra. In this case, the court dealt with citizen’s right to freedom of information
and observed, ‘in modern constitutional democracies, it is axiomatic that citizens have a right to
know the affairs of the government which, having been elected by them, seek to formulate sound
policies of governance aimed at their welfare’.

The court further observed ‘democracy expects openness and openness is concomitant of a free
society and the sunlight is the best disinfectant.

In S.P. Gupta V Union of India,

Justice P.N. Bhagwati observed; ‘the concept of an open government is the direct emanation fro
the Right to know which seems to be implicit in the right of freedom of free speech and
expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a). Therefore, discloser of information is regard to the
functioning of the government must be the rule and secrecy an exception’.

In People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) & Another V. Union of India, the Supreme
Court dealt with the issue of whether, before casting votes, voters, have a right to know relevant
particulars of their candidates such as assets, qualification, and involvement in offence.

The Supreme Court held that in a democracy, the electoral process has a strategic role. The
common people of this country should have the basic elementary right to know the full

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particulars of a candidate who is to represent them in parliament. The right to get information in
a democracy is recognized all throughout, and it is right flowing from the concept of democracy.

The court thereafter held: ‘Under our Constitution, Article 19(1)(a) provides for provides for
freedom of speech and expression. Voters’ speech or expression in case of election would include
casting of voters, that is to say; voter speaks out or expresses by casting vote. For this purpose ,
information about the candidate to be selected is must. Voter’s right to know antecedents,
including criminal past, of his candidate contesting election for MP or MLA is much more
fundamental and basic for survival of democracy. The common man may think over before
making a choice of electing law breakers as law makers’.

A reading of the many of decisions of the supreme court regarding the right to freedom of speech
and expression makes it amply clear that the right to get information is a natural right flowing
from the concept of democracy.

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CONCLUSION

When our constitution maker framed the constitution. They gathered the most relevant laws from
many countries, and implanted in our constitution. They formed those laws for the diverse
population of India. The rights which are widely popular in our country are fundamental rights.

These rights are for the welfare of the people and it is very rigid to modify. One of the important
fundamental right is freedom to form association in India.

Association can basically be defined as a group of people united for a common goal or interest.

Freedom of association is the right to join or leave groups of a person's own choosing, and for
the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of members. It is both an individual
right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems. The right of
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association pre-supposes organizations. It is a body of permanent relationship between its
members in matters of common concern. It thus includes the right to form companies, societies,
partnership, trade union and political parties.

The exercise of freedom of association by workers, students, and others in society has always
been at the heart of the struggle for democracy around the world, and it remains at the heart of
society once democracy has been achieved. Without freedom of association, other freedoms lose
their substance. It is impossible to defend individual rights if citizens are unable to organize
around common needs and interests. The general freedom to associate with groups according to
the choice of the individual, and for the groups to take action to promote their interests, has been
a necessary feature of every democratic society which has been very much protected by the
provisions of Art.19(1)(c) of the Constitution.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS -
 The Constitution of India ( P M Bakshi)

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 Bare Act- The Constitution of India
 Constitutional law of India ( J N Pandey)

INTERNET –
 Shareyouressays.com
 grkarelawlibrary.yolasite.com
 shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in
 Preserveaticles.com
 Law-briefs.in

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