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One should be bold to earn the right to freedom of speech and expression
Satbir Singh Bedi | 25 Aug 2013

The right of speech and expression is guaranteed under the Constitution of India but can one really exercise this right in all circumstances and at all places except at serious risk to one's life or limbs? By the right to speak, I do not mean idle gossip or the talks, which go on privately between friends in a bus criticizing the Government or other authorities. If one is working in a Government department, can he tell his boss that he is wrong in his thinking or he is favouring a particular company or by writing "Please speak" or "Please discuss" in the marginalia of a file and then not discussing the matter, citing pre-occupation with more serious problems, he is simply delaying the matters? One may do so but at grave risk to his career. 


He may not get his long-awaited promotion. The same is true even of public sector and private companies. No one dare tell the "Dada" of the street that he is wrong or he is doing illegal or immoral things. If he does, the "Dada" may break his leg or cut his hands. No one can tell a leader who is delivering a speech that whatever he is saying is just plain nonsense and that he had not fulfilled his election promises because if one does so, he will be badly beaten up. S.K. Dubey exercised this right and wrote to the Prime Minister's Secretariat against frauds. He lost his life. 

Many persons in the Fodder Scam case were witnesses. Perhaps, they wanted to speak but they can no longer do so because they are dead. Sometimes, even a son cannot speak against his parents and tell them that they are doing a wrong thing. He would be beaten up. Similarly, if an old and helpless parent wanted to say something against his son or daughter in law, he would be humiliated. If a daughter-in-law speaks against his mother-in-law and tells her she cannot bring more dowries and that dowry demanding is illegal, she may have to suffer death or miserable life. This is not only true of 
India but other countries of the world also.

Socrates spoke to his followers and was made to drink poison. Mansoor asserted his right to speak but was hanged. There are many and numerous examples, which suggest that only powerful people can speak and the right to speak cannot be guaranteed but it had to be earned through one's boldness.