Author: Shefali Chitkara


Freedom of Expression is the fundamental right of the citizens under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act whereas freedom of press includes freedom of writing, printing, drawing, pictures, film, movie, word of mouth, etc. It includes freedom of communication, and right to express opinion. It is a wide regulated medium which collects voices from all corners and present it in a precise and effective way. It allows you to express and prove your points with facts and figures. There is obviously the freedom of expression in the press or media but there are many exceptions which need to be looked upon and there is truly a need for regulation of media as well in every country.

We all have the freedom to express our views and points on any particular topic and in today’s world we reach through social media. Everyone has different views and it is the responsibility of press to present every opinion in a balanced way which covers everyone’s opinion. Just like a coin has two sides, press should also show both the sides. But does it actually happen?

The answer is “no” and that’s why we have so many media houses focusing on just one particular side. Even if they present a balanced opinion then it’s not acceptable as they have to be one sided! So, freedom of press comes with responsibility and that’s the reason we need to study it separately.


During the reign of the British, Indian press had faced many restrictions. Acts like Indian Press Act, 1910 and Indian Press (Emergency) Act etc. resulted in curtailing the freedom of press. The conditions worsened during the second world war. After Independence, there were fundamental changes in the perspective towards freedom of press. Constitution as well as the legal provisions take upon responsibility to protect freedom of press. In India, it is not expressly protected by the Indian legal system but it is impliedly protected under the constitution, which states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. Since no freedom is absolute, there are some exceptions involved. Similarly, freedom of press is also not absolute. It faces certain restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.

There are few important points which make it necessary for us to study freedom of press (media) differently than the freedom of expression:

  • Government and politicians have too much influence over who owns the media, who wins the licenses to operate newspapers, all of this is undermining independent journalism.
  • Many media markets are dominated by a few major players and are not free and fair. They are rife with corrupt practices.
  • Media on internet offers hope of new, independent sources of information, but are also a new battleground for those seeking to control information.


It provides a mechanism to investigate alleged corruption and misuse of power by public servants. This act indirectly protects journalists practicing investigative journalism. It aims at protecting anyone who exposes alleged wrongdoing like fraud, corruption or mismanagement in government bodies, projects and offices. Maharashtra was the first and the only one state to enact a bill for protection of journalists.

Interference by media in the judicial matters is another problem which needs to be looked upon. Judiciary commands respect and non-interference from other spheres of society. Media interference is neither desirable nor tolerable. There was a case of M. P. Lohia v. State of West Bengal, which was related to the suicide of wife due to her harassment for dowry. Special leave petition was pending against Supreme Court. An article was published in the magazine which extensively quoted the father of the deceased as to his version of the case which could all be material to be decided in forthcoming trial. The court was of the view that such article appearing in the media would interfere in functioning of judiciary. Also, in Aarushi Talwar Murder Case, the brutal murder of 14 years-old teenager, Supreme Court took a view that transparency and secrecy in an investigation are two different things. The Apex Court not only questioned a section of media but also CBI for reckless reporting. It has resulted in tarnishing the reputation of the victim and her family and has also affected ongoing judicial proceedings.

So, there is a need for separate regulations and guidelines for freedom of press and due to such reasons, there’s a need to study it as a separate topic from freedom of expression. In current situation, press houses are indirectly controlled by major parties because of financing and every press house has their principles. They don’t go against that even if they want to as it will be against their policy. In another scenario, if we provide complete freedom of press then they could release some sensitive information which should not be issued in public interest. So, there’s definitely a need for regulation of press apart from those given under freedom of expression.

There was a case of Hamdard Dawakhana v. Union of India,in which Parliament enacted an act with a view to control advertisements of drugs in certain cases. The act was challenged on the ground that restrictions on advertisements was a direct abridgement of the freedom of expression. But advertisements of this type could not claim the protection under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.

There was one more case of K. A. Abbas v. Union of India, in which K. A. Abbas wanted to screen his documentary. The Film Board refused unrestricted screening of it and asked him to edit certain scenes but Abbas refused to do so. He contended that the board was violating his freedom of expression. This case was important as it focused on freedom of media also. The Apex Court held that such censorship was governed by the standards of reasonable restrictions within Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. Further, the court in the case of Express Newspapers (Private) Ltd. v. Union of India and Others held that in view of the interpretation of the Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, the liberty of the press was an essential part of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by that article.


It can be concluded that with such hurdles and difficulties faced by the press, there’s definitely a need to study it differently than freedom of expression. Though with freedom of press, citizens have been granted freedom to express their views but again with many exceptions and many more that need to be considered. According to me, there is a need to come up with more legislative provisions and protective measures that aim at achieving freedom of press. The fact that freedom of press is an inalienable part of the smooth functioning of the democracy cannot be denied and it is the responsibility of every citizen from the journalists to the government to protect the freedom of press.