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Part VII Rights—Substance and Content, Ch.45 Free Speech and Expression

Lawrence Liang

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution

Edited By: Sujit Choudhry, Madhav Khosla, Pratap Bhanu Mehta

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 29 November 2023

This chapter examines the place of the right to freedom of speech and expression within Indian constitutionalism. After reviewing the classical normative arguments for free speech, it considers how the domain of speech is related to colonial continuity, sedition, and public order. It discusses the scope of Article19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution with respect to free speech, as well as the Indian Supreme Court’s successes and failures in its efforts to expand the domain of speech. It explores the democracy argument as the primary justification used by the courts in free speech cases, and its consequences. Finally, it looks at the standards for determining reasonableness, hate speech, and obscenity, and argues that the idea of a deliberative democracy must be supplemented with the concept of agonistic politics to enrich and strengthen the free speech tradition that has evolved in the past six decades.

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