What do you understand by the concept "freedom of speech and expression"? Does it cover hate speech also? Why do the films in India stand on a slightly different plane from other forms of expression? Discuss.

Freedom to express whatever they wish and state/speak their opinion is an important feature of any healthy democracy. Any person expressing his/her opinion must be able to do so without free of repercussion. So, freedom of speech and expression has a two-fold meaning: creation of an environment that fosters and allows freedom of speech and expression, and protection of persons from facing restrictions/suppression/censorship in any form for exercising their freedom of free speech and expression. This right is guaranteed by the Constitution in India; however, this freedom is subject to reasonable restrictions. Hate speech is an exception to the rule, with curbing of what is perceived as hate speech being a reasonable restriction. Also, in India, hate speech is prohibited by multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code.

As far as films is India as a form of expression is concerned, they are different from other forms of expression such as plays, recitals street plays, dance performances etc. because movies face pre-censorship from the Censor Board. Every movie is evaluated and scrutinized and given a rating stating its suitability for audiences by the Censor Board before the movie can be released for public viewing. Also, many states ban or prohibit screening of movies about controversial topics in response to public protests or outrage. The Supreme Court has intervened on occasion to state that hate speech is a relative and subjective issue, and movies cannot be censored/banned by the state under the threat of public disruption.


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