Freedom of the press at present or Balance between press freedom and responsibility is required for healthy journalism
SOCIAL EVOLUTION AND PRESS FREEDOMWhen in the course of social evolution people begin to live together in groups. sooner or later they must decide whether they shall govern themselves or be governed by someone else. If they commit themselves to self-government, they must recognize the equal right of all men to think, speak, write and act freely. If they consign themselves to the rule of someone else-a monarch, dictator, or oligarchy-they renounce all rights to
Men cannot live half-slave, half~freedom. Dictators who assert that their subjects are free-free to accept their dictator’s decisions make a mockery of freedom’s meaning. Men are free only when they may disagree as well as agree with constituted authority or popular opinion in any realm of government or industry, religion or science, art or literature. Nor can the right to engage in creative writing, scientific research, dramatic
interpretation, musical expression or private or public worship be denied any man because of his race, colour, income or political or cultural affiliations.
Freedom of the Press :
Freedom of the press is very essential if the press has to play a significant and constructive role in the life of a nation, especially in a democratic society. Unless the press itself enjoys freedom, how can it become the defender and protector of the rights and liberties of the citizens? A free press signifies an open society where decisions are made according to democratic traditions and not according to the dictates of one person.
The press can only perform its sacred duties of the fourth estate if it is free and independent in reporting its views and news.
But like other freedoms, freedom of the press should also not be used as a licence. It should not be misused to create a situation of the law of jungle. The press should observe certain self-imposed limitations on itself. So that instead of publishing views detrimental to the interests of the nation, it strengthens the national unity, upholds the laws of the land and contributes towards the emotional integration of the country. For
example, however free the press may be, it cannot be allowed the freedom to call in question the integrity of the judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court or to defame them. It cannot be allowed the licence to incite communal riots in the country. No state can grant such unlimited freedom to the press by which law and order in the country is endangered.
Press and Righteous Cause :
On the other hand, the press should also not be afraid of upholding and supporting a just and righteous cause, because it may antagonize the governmental machinery or some influential interests.The press has to be eternally vigilant to protect the rights of the workers, backward people and the suppressed sections of the society. It should also give a balanced view of the things and happenings, so that the people can be
helped in the formation of ‘ a healthy public opinion and correct perspective of the events. The press can play havocs by suppressing a news, or giving it an importance out of all proportions.
Democracy and Free Press :
In reality, freedom of the. press is very essential for the free flow of information and success of democracy everywhere. There has been a demand in our country that an appropriate amendment should be made in the Constitution, so that in future no government is able to clamp censorship on the press.
Indian Press :
In India, since independence, the Press has been enjoying more or less complete freedom in its working. The Press in India has on many occasions crossed swords with the government and has done a good service in protecting the democratic traditions. But during the nineteen months following the imposition of internal
emergency, which was declared on 25th June, 1975, the freedom of the press in India was curtailed by the government. Strict censorship was imposed upon the press and it was not all allowed to publish any report against the government. This censorship was removed only after the sixth general election in March 1977, when the emergency was lifted.
Press Freedom should not be used as a Licence :
But like all other freedoms, freedom of the press should also not be used as a licence. It should not be misused to create a situation of the law of the jungle. The press should observe certain limits. However, as already stated, like other freedoms, freedom of the press should also not be used as a licence.
Press Freedom and State Constitution :
Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the constitutions of states all over the world irrespective of the political system to Which they adhere. But everywhere it is regulated with due regard to the maintenance of the integrity and security of the country and of social order. It is also universally recognized that constitutional. guarantees and fundamental principle operate only in the periods of normalcy while in emergencies like wars, threats of war, crises and unrest, these are suspended.
Scope of Freedom in Political System :
The measure of restrictions: on freedom of expression during normalcy differs from country depending on the political system to which it owes allegiance.
In Communist or Socialist World :
In the Communist or Socialist world, press is nationalized and therefore subordinated to the political system, In lands, where dictatorship reigns supreme, the press is completely Subservient to the Executive In what is popularly known as the “Free World”, press is free but the freedom carries with it responsibilities regulated by law prohibiting divulgence of secrets vital to the interest of the state, incitement to violence provocation for altering by force the system of government, bringing legal proceedings to contempt and indulgences in scurrilous writings and malicious attacks against any person. However, penalties are generally imposed by courts of law. In certain advanced countries, the Executive is sometimes authorised to act on its own initiative, though the action may later be challenged in a court of law.
Thus the nature of restraints is the same as that prevalent in even the most advanced countries. However, there is one difference, that it is largely the executive, rather than judiciary, that has powers to impose penalties. Needless to say that this is a temporary phase necessitated by the requirements of a new society yet in the making and as the society makes progress, freedom of the press too would make a corresponding