indian law Resources

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The Court in Union of India

The Court in Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms, [2002]3SCR696,in this case decided by the supreme court it was said that voters' right to know the antecedents of the candidates is his basic right and this is also a interpretation of Article 19(1)(a) which provides that all citizens of this country have fundamental right to "freedom of speech and expression", thus form this it can be concluded that fundamental right to know each and everything which is under the public interest, of the candidate contesting the elections is a part and a interpretation made by the court. It is also equally settled law that the Court should not shirk its duty from performing its function merely because it has political thicket. Following observations of Bhagwati, J., made in State of Rajasthan v. Union of India [1978]1SCR1 keeping in mind the decision of the SupremeCourt in B.R. Kapur v. State of Tamil Nadu:,in this case he said that merely because it is a question of political complexion, it don't mean that why the court should not perform its duty under the Constitution if it points out a question which needs constitutional determination.

"The public interest in freedom of discussion (of which the freedom of the press is one aspect) stems from the requirement that members of a democratic society should be sufficiently informed that they may influence intelligently the decisions which may affect themselves

Lord Simon of Glaisdale in Attorney-General v. Times Newspapers Ltd. 1973) 3 All ER 54. Said that there are four broad social purposes to serve by the Freedom of speech and expression and Legislation cannot pass a law when Freedom of press, a part of Fundamental Right of Speech and Expression fulfills the following criteria(i) it helps an individual to attain self-fulfilment, (ii) it assists in the discovery of truth, (iii) it strengthens the capacity of an individual in participating in decision-making and (iv) 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.

Even with regard to telecasting of events such as cricket, football and hockey etc., this Court in Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India v. Cricket Association of Bengal [1995]1SCR1036 held that "the right to freedom of speech and expression also includes right to educate, to inform and to entertain and also the right to be educated, informed and entertained." The court also said that the existence of true democracy will only be accomplished when all the citizen have a right to participate in the affairs of the government in the interest of public importance. Moreover it is particularly true that in our country where about 65 per cent of the population is illiterate and thus only television or in other word audio-visual media can play a vital role and hardly 1 1/2 per cent of the population has an access to the print media. Democratic Government cannot survive without accountability and informed citizen which are necessary and act as a part of democracy. The citizens of the country have a exclusive right to decide by what rules and by whom they shall be governed and they are entitled to call on those who govern on their behalf to account for their conduct.

In Mahal Chand Sethia v. State of West Bengal [Crl. A. No. 75 of 1969 MANU/SC/0529/1969, decided on 10.9.1969], Mitter, J., speaking for the Court stated the legal position in these words:

.....A court of law can pronounce upon the validity of any law and declare the same to be null and void if it was beyond the legislative competence of the Legislature or if it infringed the rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution. Needless to add it can strike down or declare invalid any Act or direction of a State Government which is not authorised by law. The position of a Legislature is however different. It cannot declare any decision of a court of law to be void or of not effect."

it is well known that fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution such as, right to equality and freedom have no fixed contents. Since last more than 50 years, this Court has interpreted articles 14, 19 and 21 and given meaning and colour so that nation can have a truly republic democratic society. Thus it can be conclusively stated that from time to time, the Court has filled in the “skeleton with soul and blood and made it vibrant”.

"The right to freedom of speech and expression includes the right to receive and impart information. For ensuring the free speech right of the citizens of this country, it is necessary that the citizens have the benefit of plurality of views and a range of opinions on all public issues. A successful democracy posits an 'aware' citizenry. Diversity of opinions, views, ideas and ideologies is essential to enable the citizens to arrive at informed judgment on all issues touching them."

Dharmadhikari J. said in one of the land mark decision where it said that muscle-power and money-power have considerably polluted and perverted running of the democratic processes in India. To control the ill-effects of money-power and muscle-power, citizen's fundamental 'right of information' should be recognised and fully effectuated.