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Freedom of speech in America

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America is leader country as far as protection of freedom of speech and expression is concerned. It provides very wide interpretation of freedom of speech to its citizen. Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly and petition this set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. However, initially there was no provision for protecting freedom of speech in American Constitution, but very soon realizing the importance of freedom of speech it amended its constitution and pave way for protection of speech and expression. The first amendment of the American constitution specially provides that –

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

The above Amendment to the American Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights. As per the Bill of Rights United States Congress has been prohibited from making laws, infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, etc. The sum total of the components of the law of the First Amendment provides a great deal of protection to freedom of speech .Although, as per the provision, the First Amendment only explicitly applies to the Congress, the Supreme Court of America has interpreted it as applying to the executive and judicial branches. The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech very expansively, and the constitutional protection afforded to freedom of speech is perhaps the strongest protection afforded to any individual right under the Constitution.

Two great democracies of world America and India very aptly recognizes the right of freedom of speech and expression. The United States and India almost have similar free speech provisions in their Constitutions. Article 19(1) (a) of Indian constitution corresponds to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution which says, “congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech or of the press”. However, the provisions in the US Constitution have two notable features i.e.:

  1. Freedom of press is specifically mentioned therein
  2. No restrictions are mentioned on the freedom of speech.

As far as India is concerned, Supreme Court of India has held that there is no specific provision ensuring freedom of the press separately. Therefore, press cannot be subjected to any special restrictions which could not be imposed on any private citizen, and cannot claim any privilege (unless conferred specifically by law), as such, as distinct from those of any other citizen.

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