Civil Procedure Code (CPC)

Freedom of speech


Section 144 is in force in the city of Indore prohibiting speeches in certain public areas. Ram, a citizen disobeys the order and is prosecuted. Can he invoke the freedom of speech and expression contained in the Article 19 of the constitution?  

 
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Secunderabad/Highcourt practice watsapp no.9989324294

An order issued under Section 144, to restrict freedom of speech and expression is provided by law as it is issued by a competent authority in keeping with Article 13(3) of the Constitution

 
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As per your query, let me tell you that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 authorises the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area. According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' can be booked for engaging in rioting.

Section 144 is imposed in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger of some event that has the potential to cause trouble or damage to human life or property. Section 144 of CrPC generally prohibits public gathering.

Section 144 has been used in the past to impose restrictions as a means to prevent protests that can lead to unrest or riots. The orders to impose Section 144 have been conferred to Executive Magistrate when there is an emergency situation.

So basically, an order under this section, there shall be no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed and there will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order.

However, on the other hand, Article 19 of the Indian Constitution states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Therefore, a person can typically does not use Article 19 to protect himself/herself merely just because it's a Fundamental Right as there are many Fundamental Obligations that are applicable to each and every citizen of the country as well. So, there are certain situations that an individual is suppose to abide to because orders for section 144 are given for crucial reasons
by appropriate authority in order to maintain peace and order in the society, and thus it's important to abide.

So, Article 19 can be used only in situations where one has been an law abiding citizen, as it has been established to protect rights of a citizen of country but that doesn't mean it could be used to hamper the functioning of the society or going against the government.

Hope It Helps

Regards
Kevin M. Paul
 
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In answer to your query, I wish to tell you that though the freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India is one of the most important freedoms available to us, it is not absolute. Article 19(2) lays down certain restrictions like protection of sovereignty and integrity of India, maintaining public order, friendly relations with States etc. This means that if there is a threat to the public order, then the authorities can take necessary action to ensure that public peace and tranquility is maintained. Section 144 of the CrPC gives the power to the District magistrate of an area to put such restrictions which are necessary to ensure peace and maintenance of public order. Now, in answer to your query, if section 144 is in force in the city, it means that the exercise of the freedom of speech is restricted and since Ram violated the orders, he can be punished, and in this case, he won’t be able to invoke his freedom of speech and expression.

However, if the restrictions imposed under Section 144 are arbitrary, unreasonable and excessive, the restrictions can be put aside by a competent court. Various recent judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court have stressed that the restrictions cannot be excessive and must not encroach upon the fundamental rights of the people in the veil of maintaining public order.

 
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Lawyer

I agree and appreciate the explanation given by Ms. Bhavya Som Garg to the academic query posted, which should have been addressed to the professor / tutor of author,.since this platform is meant to oblige needy litigants and not for providing coaching. 

 
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Retired Manager

The answer is "No",  as the competent authority imposed restrictions u/s 144 to preven disturbances which may escalate into larger law and order situation. Under such circumstances, when the restrictions are imposed to protect a large population in an area, one person cannot claim freedom of speech and thereby disturb the peace in the area.

 
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Student

 Hello!  

The right to freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right guaranteed under Artice 19(1)(a) of the constitution and even though it is one of the most important rights, it is restrained under some reasonable restrictions which are mentioned under Article 19(2) out of which one is the maintenance of public order.  

Section 144 of the CrPC gives the magistrate the power to issue orders in urgent cases to maintain public order. It is used to prevent the assembly of more than four people and in some cases can be aimed at a particular individual.  In Madhu Limaye vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate case 1970, the Supreme Court held that the restrictions imposed through Section 144 cannot be held to be violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression.  

Therefore, answering your query Ram cannot invoke his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as he deliberately disobeyed the order passed by a competent authority and can be prosecuted for the same.  

Regards  

Vasundhara Singh  

 
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