The Right to Freedom of Speech

boyNorth Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, prohibits anyone from speaking against their country or government. Those who dare to do so, are promptly arrested and sent to “re-education” camps where they are forced to accept “superiority” of the country. India is a democracy, yes, and for a democracy to function, its citizens must be allowed to voice out their opinions. The arrest of a student leader belonging to JNU, one of the most prestigious academic institutions of the country, for organizing a protest in their campus itself has left everyone questioning the concept of freedom of speech. However, is granting citizens complete freedom of speech dangerous to the welfare of the state?   Ahyulo Khing, B.A. 4thSem (Pol Science Honours)  

Every state today is not entirely peaceful because some people or groups have different demands and desires for their own community. These demands and desires clash with the freedom of others, which results in conflict. This gives birth to instability of law and order in our country. In India, law and order of the union territory is administered by the Central Government and as mentioned, public order comes under the state lists. If instability arises there is a blame game between the Centre and the State.  

At present, the news channels in India are reverberating with the crisis in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) Delhi, where the President of JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union) Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested by the Delhi police on charges of sedition. He was arrested in connection with an event at the university in which anti-national slogans and those in favour of Afzal Guru a Kashmiri Muslim, who was secretly hanged for attacking on the parliament in Dec.2001 was allegedly raised. This controversial issue has led to huge student protests both at the university as well as in several cities across the country. Incidents like these are an eye-opener about the role of the government and the people in working together to resolve issues in our country.  

In the fateful March 5 incident of 2015 in Dimapur, we are reminded of how brutal and inhumane people can get and how the use of force, indiscipline and illogical thinking can result in utter chaos. Dimapur was finally mentioned in news channels across the world but for all the wrong reasons. We are granted with certain basic rights like freedom to assemble peacefully without arms, freedom of speech and expression without hampering the unity and integrity of the nation, and have to use these rights without overriding the basic structure of the constitution. However, instability arises when people resort to violence and fail to realise their rights.  

India being a secular country lacks tolerance in many ways.  Article 48 of the Constitution of India mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. However, these are guiding principles and it cannot be enforceable by law as it falls under the DPSP (Directive Principle of State Policy). Nevertheless, some Muslims were killed for slaughtering cows thereby displaying the intolerant behaviour of our country. Secularism is all about harmony not about how much control one religion has, over the others.  

Denial and delay of justice is another major problem in our country. India has the world’s largest number of pending cases which by estimates exceeds to 30 million. Cases in India often results in the accused spending a part of his life in jail, irrespective of whether the accused is found guilty or not, but the time taken to pronounce the final verdict often leads to the delay of justice to both the accused and the victim. This issue also arises because of inadequate number of judges. In order to solve such issues fast track courts should be even extended to district level; and more LokAdalat should be established by the government in order to lessen the issues of delaying justice.  

Law and order can be stabilised in our country if people adopt peaceful means and follow the policy of non-violence, as resorting to violence gives birth to aggression. Though the process of peaceful method is long, it always results to a better solution and government on their part should also execute the law and order efficiently.  

Lastly, as a student I believe we have a bigger role to play in our society. It is our responsibility to ensure that our rights are not violated. We need to be aware of our rights and limitations; because we cannot afford to be swayed away by political agenda. At the same time, as students who comprise of the future generation of our country, I believe we must also not allow others to use us as an agenda. We all have the freedom to express our opinions, butopinions also need to be sensible. After all, at the end of the day, I think all we want is a better country that we can be proud of.  

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: [email protected]”.