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Introduction

The assignment focuses on restriction on freedom of speech, freedom of speech


protection in cyberspace, right to self-expression, content regulation- “Hicklin”
speech sexually explicit material, relation of article 199 in cyberspace, and UDHR
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights) with freedom of speech and expression
in cyberspace.
Prior to 1990s, information and content was predominantly within the strict
boundaries and control of individual states, whether through paper based
publication or even through public demonstrations.
Nowadays, information and content with its digital transmission and widespread
availability through the internet, do not necessarily respect nation rules or
territorial boundaries.
The endless growth of computer network and telecommunications facilitated by
the digital technologies has given birth to a common space called “Cyberspace”.
This cyberspace has become a platform for various human activities which cover
on internet. This is a kind of media, where anybody, or everybody can
communicate by putting their own particular thoughts or different things, in fact, it
promotes all sort of activities which are prohibited by law. The basic law for
cyberspace transactions in India has emerged in the form of Information
Technology Act, 2000. This Act deals with many issues and offences/ crimes in
cyberspace but when it comes specifically to freedom of speech and expression in
online world, the Act lags behind somewhere because in India it is limited to only
the “Constitution of India” under Article 19A.
Freedom of Speech and Expression is one of the fundamental Rights.
There are various reasons behind a state’s decision of censoring freedom of
expression. On various occasions, it has been seen that country’s sovereignty and
security might be compromised because of publication of certain content in the
internet.
With the widespread availability of Internet and increasing no. of users, online
content regulation became an important focus on Government and supranational
bodies across the globe.

Cases
1. Maqbool Fida Husain v. Raj Kumar Pandey

Facts: -
Maqbool Husain is a famous painter. One of his painting later titled
“Bharat Mata”(Mother India), depicts India in the form of naked woman.
He sold it to a private collection in 2004. In 2006, the painting was
advertised in an online charity auction for earthquake victims. The
advertisemrnt of painting led to protest.
The trail Court in Delhi issued summons to Husain for offences u/s 292
of Indian Penal Code, 1860 which punishes obscene material.
Section 294 of IPC- which punishes obscene acts and songs and section
298 of IPC- which punishes expression intending to hurt religious
sentiments and defamation u/s 500, and under Prevention of Insults to
National Honor Act and Emblenes and Names Act because his painly
have Ashoka Chakra in an objectionable manner.
Husain filed revision petition.

Decision :-

The Court concluded that painly didin’t violate section 292 and not guilty
u/s 294 .i.e. mere fact that painting was uploaded on web and can be
accessed from anywhere and by anyone doesn’t constitute the offence.

2. Shreya Singhal V/s Union of India


Two girls-Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan, were arrested by the
Mumbai police in 2012 for expressing their displeasure at a bandh called
in the wake of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackery’s death. * The women
posted their comments on the Facebook. The arrested women were
released later on and it was decided to close the criminal cases against
them yet the arrests attracted widespread public protest. * It was felt that
the police has misused its power by invoking Section 66A inter alia
contending that it violates the freedom of speech and expression. * The
apex court judgment came on a batch of petitions challenging the
constitutional validity of Section 66A of the IT Act on the grounds of its
vague and ambiguous and was being misused by the law enforcing
authorities.

Held : -
It is held that the Section is unconstitutional also on the ground that it takes
within its sweep protected speech and speech that is innocent in nature and is
liable therefore to be used in such a way as to have a chilling effect on free
speech and would, therefore, have to be struck down on the ground of over
breadth. Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is struck
down in its entirety being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under
Article 19(2). Section 69A and the Information Technology (Procedure &
Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009
are constitutionally valid.

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