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freedom of speech

07 November 2019

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who has been one of Twitter’s more prolific and active lawyers (with 37,330 tweets as of 2015 and 98,000 followers more recently), has been banned from the platform and has sent a legal notice to the social media giant, according to The Print.

02 December 2016

The Supreme Court today refused to entertain the petition of BJP leader and lawyer Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, who seeking to get an order to make playing of the national anthem compulsory before court proceedings from the same bench that had on Wednesday passed a controversial order making the playing of the anthem in cinemas mandatory, reported PTI.

28 July 2016

The Supreme Court said today defamation laws cannot be used by the government to stifle criticism.

05 July 2016

The Tamil novel, "Madhorubagan", authored by Perumal Murugan, and translated into English as "One Part Woman" which received literary awards, was alleged to narrate non-existent conventions that sought to tarnish the image of populace of the area.

22 June 2016

"Professor BP Mahesh Guru, who teaches at the Mysore University, was arrested on 17 June when he appeared before a Mysore court in connection with a case registered against him for allegedly insulting the Hindu god at a conference in January 2015," reported the Hindustan Times.

29 February 2016

It was pretty much about who would blink first: Swamy or the bench.

30 October 2015

According to internet freedom watchdog Freedom House, “Internet freedom in India has improved in the past year” in its report of 65 countries, with India having seen “positive developments relating to ‘regulatory framework, declining detentions for online speech and burgeoning digital access’”, reported the WSJ, following the Supreme Court striking down section 66A _of the _IT Act:

More than half of the countries included in the report saw online freedom deteriorate since June 2014, the report said.India improved its measure on two criteria: the obstacles to Internet access and violations of user rights. Its total score went up from 42 to 40, with Internet penetration leaping from 5% to 18% in the past five years. The lower the score, the better the country’s Internet freedom.

Full India country report available here:

Key Developments: 
Key Developments
  • The Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act in 2015, which had been the cause of several arrests for online speech, particularly on social media (see Legal Environment).
  • Though the Supreme Court also upheld the IT Act’s Section 69A, which authorizes government blocking of online content, it did make the blocking process more transparent, and strengthened intermediary liability protection (see Blocking and Filtering and Content Removal).
  • Website blocks ordered by the government or the courts temporarily affected entire platforms, such as Vimeo or Google Docs (see Blocking and Filtering).
  • In April 2015, over 1 million people rallied to protect net neutrality and prevent regulation allowing telecommunications providers to charge extra for select services (see Digital Activism).
09 September 2015

A Supreme Court bench of justices Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy declined a transfer petition from Ahmedabad city civil court to Delhi in the Rs 250 crore defamation case launched by Essar against Caravan magazine and others, as first reported by Legally India in August.

Mint reported:

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing the magazine, argued on Tuesday that none of the actions leading to the alleged defamation had occurred in Ahmedabad, and the appropriate and convenient forum was Delhi. He called Essar’s petition a Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit aimed at harassing the magazine. He said that it was in the interest of justice to transfer the case to Delhi, so that Caravan could produce its witnesses and defend its case.

20 August 2015

The Hindustan Times’ Aloke Tikku reported:

A first-of-its-kind set of statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that 2,402 people, including 29 women, were arrested in 4,192 cases under section 66A — which was struck down in March by the Supreme Court that ruled that it violated the constitutional freedom of speech.

These arrests made up nearly 60% of all arrests under the IT Act, and 40% of arrests for cyber crimes in 2014. It was also a little less than twice the number of people caught red-handed accepting bribes the same year.

“These statistics are shocking. I had assumed there may be a few hundred cases, at worst,” said Shreya Singhal, on whose petition the top court had scrapped the provision.

Also read: Behind the scenes: How 90+ lawyers & 3 judges created the biggest free speech judgment in more than half a century

03 August 2015

Markandey Katju committed no offence by dubbing as “nonsense” the Hindu belief that cow is mother, said a Delhi court while rejecting a plea to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the former Supreme Court judge, reported the PTI. The Supreme Court meanwhile told Katju that the parliament was free to condemn his views, reported IANS.

Metropolitan Magistrate Deepika Singh rejected the complaint that was made against Katju under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), Section 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race) of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC).

The complainant claimed that Katju had deliberately uttered these words to hurt religious feelings of the entire Hindu community including the complainant, but Singh observed that Katju’s expression fell within his constitutional freedom of speech and expression.

Meanwhile, Katju had, through senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, filed a plea in the Supreme Court arguing that the parliament had damaged his reputation by condemning him for his statement that Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was a "japanese agent" and Mahatma Gandhi was a "British agent".

The SC bench was headed by justice TS Thakur, and it agreed to hear the matter, appointing senior advocate Fali S Nariman as amicus curiae, but told him that the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha's passage of unanimous resolutions condemning Katju's statements did not violate Katju's freedom of speech and expression.

02 August 2015

Khajuraho Lakshmana Temple: Not yet blockedIndian internet service providers (ISPs) received a notice from the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) two days ago (31 July), ordering the blocking of 857 websites, many of which appeared to host pornography, according to an authoritative source at an ISP.

15 July 2015

After Subramanian Swamy and PP Rao began arguing yesterday in the multi-petitioner challenge of sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Swamy, senior counsel Rao and Rajeev Dhavan today continued their arguments.

14 July 2015

The hearings in the Subramaniam Swamy v Union of India case began today, with Swamy, alongside several other petitioners, seeking to get the Supreme Court to strike down section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. This is what happened.

09 July 2015

Speaker's corner: SingaporeDefamation will no longer be a jailable offence under which journalists may be charged for their reportage, if the Foundation of Media Professionals’ (FMP) constitutional challenge to India’s criminal defamation provisions wins in the Supreme Court.

24 April 2015

Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra is still anxious a month after the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a controversial law that led to his arrest for e-mailing a cartoon mocking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

01 April 2015

In Numbers: Via MintDespite all the legal firepower involved, it was far from certain that the case would go the way it did.