Justice Rohinton Nariman on free speech and Indian Constitution

Justice Nariman was delivering the inaugural Jitendra Desai Memorial Lecture, on the topic, “Freedom of Speech: Contemporary Challenges”.


This is a brilliant dissertation on the Freedom of Speech - its relevance, history - democracy. -the constitution and BBC Ban

He points out, in particular, that the 2022 ruling overturning the earlier order of 2017, that he delivered together with Justice Gupta on the Bench, striking down sec 45 (additional bail conditions) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, was unfortunate. This is shown by the low conviction rate of cases under this law, 0.2%, meaning in effect that arbitrary arrests under the Act were being used to put certain people in jail, although evidence sufficient to convict them was lacking. The jail without sentence was itself intended to convey a chilling effect.

He goes on further to comment that the ban on a recent BBC program critiquing the government of India, one that could not be effectively carried out, is even worse, and that trying to prevent such content from being experienced by Indians was futile.