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Title: Religious offense and the censorship of publications in India : law, legal process and the role of judiciary
Author: Kumar, Nishant
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 1163
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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In this work, I analyse the role of judiciary in the process of censorship in India. Focusing on the subject of “Religious offense and censorship of publications,” I examine the rationales and justifications given by courts to restrict freedom of speech and expression. I argue that the issues like public order, and the concern to protect religious sentimentalities of different communities from hurt in a secular democracy, form the bedrock on which the courts construct the legal justification for curtailment of right to freedom of expression. In the process, the courts define the “reasonability” of restrictions, as advocated under article 19(2) of the constitution, very expansively, thereby allowing wide latitude for state intervention in the free exercise of this fundamental right. In a way, the position of the courts reflect a sense of legal patronage for state action against misuse of freedom of speech and expression, and it also exhibits a form of legal paternalism where the courts educates the citizens regarding the permissible limits of “matter” and “manner” of speech acts. I further argue that this attitude of the courts, along with the ambiguity attached with the nature of statutory laws, and the structural and procedural limitations of the legal process creates a “web of censorship” that fails to provide the legal protection required for the free exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, despite these limitations, and increasing intervention of non-state actors in the process of censorship, the role of courts cannot be undermined. As the constitutional authority to interpret and define the scope of freedom of speech and expression, they continue to play a dominant role in the politics of censorship in Indian context.
Supervisor: Khilnani, Sunil Khemchand Rewachand ; Jaffrelot, Christophe Olivier Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available