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Freedom of the press under threat due to Rajasthan govt's new 'gag law'
The Indian Constitution's Article19 (a) (i) not only grants its citizen Freedom of Speech but ensures freedom of press which is unquestionably a vital element for a healthy democracy too.

But surprisingly the Rajasthan government, tabling a bill in the Assembly to amend the CrPC of 1973 of late, has, allegedly, sought to renounce the Constitutionally granted freedom of speech of press.

The state government through the controversial bill has sought to vanquish the power of the law keeper too by not allowing the latter to institute an enquiry against any government or judicial officer without prior permission of it.

It, too, has sought to debar the press from publishing news based on allegations against any government or judicial officer without the prior approval of the state government. Hence, the bill, as argued by some Constitutional experts, is being seen as against the very spirit of the Constitution. Even a section of Constitutional experts argue that the enactment of the bill may lead to totalitarianism.

In this context what is more horrifying is that other state governments may also follow the path of the Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan government. It is interesting that the makers of the Indian Constitution unlike some other countries had not keep separate provision in the Constitution for granting freedom for the press. But that does not mean that the Indian Constitution refuses to give freedom to the press because the aforementioned article of the Constitution carries the seed of freedom for the press.

The Indian Constitution also imposes reasonable restriction on the Freedom of Speech through inclusion of the Article 19(2). In spite of this the Rajasthan government somewhat whimsically tries to curtail down the freedom of the speech which can be termed as reflective of some sort of despotism. The Rajasthan government's method of threatening the press through statute measure is akin to the action taken by the USA President Donald Trump against a media company of his country. Thus, the danger faced by the press, today, in a welfare country like India or the USA is similar to the danger faced by their counterparts in some countries in the world ruled by totalitarian regimes.

The Indian Constitution with reasonable restriction grants its every citizen Freedom of Speech but successive governments never allow to practice the very freedom in social discourse or in a broad arena by the government personnel. It became apparent when a CRPF jawan was arrested recently in Jorhat , Assam after he expressed dissatisfaction over the prevailing work conditions. However, such situations, too, have been witnessed by the people of India before. But can be it proved as infringement of the Constitution by the government in any court of law? Definitely it may be a dilemma. But the renounce of power of the press seems bizarre in a democratic country where media plays the role of the voice of the people.

In India, despite the fact that the country is the largest democracy in the world, journalists have hardly any security due to the government's reluctance to initiate statute measure. As such, India has received humiliating distinction of vulnerable country for journalists. It needs no mention here that while Assam alone has lost 32 journalists since 1987 including two Executive Editors of the different Assamese news papers, India lost more than six journalists at the hands of unscrupulous elements this year. Hence, the government both at the Centre and state should formulate policy for the healthy well-being of the press as well as journalists for the sake of a vibrant democracy.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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