I’m Listening…

It could be a media stunt or it could be a genuine concern, but all I can see is a group of people accusing one person for expressing his/her opinion. Be it Taslima Nasreen or Shashi Tharoor, they are in news for one reason or another. But, mostly for the wrong ones.

What good can a free country offer to its citizens, if it doesn’t allow one to exercise a fundamental right, freedom to speech. I was wondering why people blame these guys for nothing more than expression of personal opinions. Are we deprived of this fundamental right..? What good does it make to call oneself a free man, if he isn’t allowed to even speak freely.

As usual, I decided to dig upon this. First thing I realized was not to generalize the idea and to analyze it case on case basis.

I decided to start with facts about Shashi Tharoor and his much discussed tweets. what makes his opinions so much more important than other’s. Yes, of course he is a very important person, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs. I researched to find if ministers have legal exceptions in the fundamental rights. Well, I guess not. I Looked into the definition of ‘Democracy’, the political framework our country runs on. It clearly says that, in a democratic country, people are represented by one person they have collectively chosen. Which I think, I can safely take as an evidence to say, Shashi Tharoor is a representative of people which in turn implies that his opinions represent people’s opinions. Now, if a minister has to speak an opinion, it definitely has to be in terms with that of the people he represents. Otherwise, you better choose silence.

Yet another case I was interested in was Taslima’s controversial article. she is only a writer and doesn’t represent any group, formally or informally. Then, why should she not speak freely.

I found this,

Article 19 clause 2. (Constitution of India)

” Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions 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 relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. ”

The word to look for in this Article is ‘public order’.

Which means that anybody can speak anything they want unless what they say leads to a public disturbance. One can be legally deprived of the freedom to speech if his/her speech affects public order. So thats it, Taslima is legally in fault for expressing something that led to public disturbance.

Finally, all I could say is, the rules can be taken for refuge or for an armlock. But, as a responsible citizen, everyone is morally bound to speak about what is socially acceptable (I wont promise you publicity for this though). When someone is addressing a group of people, he/she is directly or indirectly affecting their collective opinions.

So, listen all you big mouths, we are all ears…

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