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THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THE PRIVACY RIGHTS IN THE PRESS AND THE MEDIA

Press and Media provide a medium to express one’s feelings, opinions and views. In this way, it plays a crucial role in shaping the thinking process and opinion of the general public on various topics of regional, national and international scale. A free and independent Press and Media is thus an inevitable requirement of any society. The Courts in India recognised this necessity, and made ‘Freedom of Press’ a part of the Fundamental Right of ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression u/Art.19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. However, just like all other Freedoms u/Art.19, Freedom of Press is also subject to reasonable restrictions.

The other side of the Freedom of Press is the Right to Privacy of the individual who is the subject of this Press. In exercising its Freedom, the Press and Media cannot ignore its duty to respect the privacy of others. There have been far too many instances where media exposure has dashed the personality, reputation and careers of individuals. Such instances not only violate the individual’s Fundamental Right to live with liberty, dignity and respect, but also his Right to Privacy, which has been recognised as an integral part of the Right to Life of an individual u/Art.21 of the Constitution of India.

Thus, with the increased importance of the role of Press and Media, the need for accountability and responsibility also increases. There is a need to maintain a balance between the two seemingly contradictory Rights of Press and Privacy. Right to privacy should act as a check on how far the Media can encroach in an individual’s life in the name of Freedom of Press. This is clearly a complex process which demands keeping in mind the interests of the parties at both ends. This is where the Judiciary steps in to restrain the media from intruding into individual privacy, and set benchmarks for future Press and Media reporting.

In light of the above, this Paper shall bring to light the emerging privacy concerns in light of the Freedom of Press. It shall examine both, the National and International law on Media and Privacy, and then focus on how the Indian Judiciary has maintained a balance between these two Rights. The Paper shall also provide suggestions on improving the balance between these two seemingly conflicting Rights.

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Press and Media provide a medium to express one’s feelings, opinions and views. In this way, it plays a crucial role in shaping the thinking process and opinion of the general public on various topics of regional, national and international scale. A free and independent Press and Media is thus an inevitable requirement of any society. The Courts in India recognised this necessity, and made ‘Freedom of Press’ a part of the Fundamental Right of ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression u/Art.19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. However, just like all other Freedoms u/Art.19, Freedom of Press is also subject to reasonable restrictions.

The other side of the Freedom of Press is the Right to Privacy of the individual who is the subject of this Press. In exercising its Freedom, the Press and Media cannot ignore its duty to respect the privacy of others. There have been far too many instances where media exposure has dashed the personality, reputation and careers of individuals. Such instances not only violate the individual’s Fundamental Right to live with liberty, dignity and respect, but also his Right to Privacy, which has been recognised as an integral part of the Right to Life of an individual u/Art.21 of the Constitution of India.

Thus, with the increased importance of the role of Press and Media, the need for accountability and responsibility also increases. There is a need to maintain a balance between the two seemingly contradictory Rights of Press and Privacy. Right to privacy should act as a check on how far the Media can encroach in an individual’s life in the name of Freedom of Press. This is clearly a complex process which demands keeping in mind the interests of the parties at both ends. This is where the Judiciary steps in to restrain the media from intruding into individual privacy, and set benchmarks for future Press and Media reporting.

In light of the above, this Paper shall bring to light the emerging privacy concerns in light of the Freedom of Press. It shall examine both, the National and International law on Media and Privacy, and then focus on how the Indian Judiciary has maintained a balance between these two Rights. The Paper shall also provide suggestions on improving the balance between these two seemingly conflicting Rights.

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