SC: Freedom Of Expression Includes Right To Know

IAS Prelims 2023

Supreme Court of India observed that freedom of expression includes right to be informed and right to know and feeling of protection of expansive connectivity.

Supreme Court also observed that the citizens have the right to access the Internet to gain information, wisdom and knowledge and their right cannot be curtailed unless it encroaches into the boundary of illegality.

Calling the Internet a “virtual world” and a “world which is invisible in a way,” the Supreme Court observed that the fundamental right of expression includes “the right to be informed and the right to know and the feeling of protection of expansive connectivity” the Internet offers on the click of a button.

The court clarified that a general prohibition on all online content about pre-natal sex determination will curtail the fundamental right to know of a genuine information-seeker.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra held the prohibition should kick in only if the content found online is violative of Section 22 (prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex) under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act of 1994.

The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Sabu Mathew George for strict adherence by search engines to Section 22.

The three Internet search engines — Microsoft, Google India and Yahoo! India — gave their assurances to the Supreme Court that they would neither advertise nor sponsor advertisements violative of the PNPCDT Act.