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Misusing one’s freedom

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Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Freedom of speech is being grossly misused these days and nobody cares about the adverse impact it can have. The ideology of freedom of speech and expression is not to build up hatred against each other which we are witnessing today.
There are countless examples where the right to free speech has been used to sow division, hate, or confusion. There is no doubt that the Freedom of Speech is one of the biggest human right any person can have and yet it is also one of the greatest to be trampled on in the world today. Don’t we think that freedom of speech is a beautiful thing; a great human right? But it is also dangerous and we need to use it with responsibility.
Recently, a Union Minister has rightly said that at a time when the entire country is rejoicing at the selection of a self-made woman from a tribal background as the President, a person under the grab of freedom of speech insults her.
The conduct of the opposition in the parliament last week proved an “insult” to Parliament and the Constitution. A congress leader whom Sonia Gandhi has appointed as the leader in Lok Sabha to speak and insulted the President of India.
A tribal woman from a poor family who created history is being continuously demeaned by the Congress. Why? Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has sparked a massive controversy by calling President Draupadi Murmu ‘Rashtrapatni’.
He himself has admitted that it was his ‘mistake’ then why he was refusing to apologize. In fact, he said that the ruling party is trying to make mountain out of a molehill. It is nice that now the congress leader in Lok Sabha AdhirRanjan Chowdhury has apologised to President Droupadi Murmu and stated that he had mistakenly used an incorrect word to describe the post she held.
The Supreme Court had a stern message for political leaders and stated that that one should not insult top constitutional functionaries just because they are not from your political party. People must show respect to the President of India and all other leaders.
People should speak with responsibility and not misuse the freedom of speech. Celebrities, politicians, authors and the general public, are exposed to cruel and perverted individuals who believe that they can say whatever they want, whenever they want to say it no matter what the consequences may be.
“Chalta Hai’ attitude towards such mud-slinging, in fact, encourages others too, to indulge in this dirty game. This mud-slinging game has taken away very spirit of democracy. Our Constitution while granting the fundamental right of the freedom of expression under Article 19, deliberately did not spell out what would be the exceptions because the makers had full faith in the wisdom of the people, the politicians included.
Freedom of speech and expression is a shadow of a common man that follows it from birth. It can also be termed as a birthright of any individual. Since childhood, we are taught as to what to speak and what not in front of others.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides suitable punishment for all such offences like abusing, insulting, annoying, defaming and criminally intimidating a person. Further, laws under civil court’s jurisdiction also provide for damages, compensation etc. The courts in India have quite often shown their serious concern to uphold the privacy and personal dignity of the people and punished the offenders when the need arose.
What we need is to think before speaking, before writing anything against anyone. We need to show empathy, see past what we disagree with and not hide behind our online profile. The right to free speech does mean that people will say unpleasant things. Those who argue for strong human rights protections need to acknowledge and own this fact.
(The author hails from Jodhpur Tekra Ahmedabad)


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