A Sena activist being arrested during a protest near a theatre

Kartikeya | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; February 12, 2010)

Mumbai: Did Shah Rukh Khan abuse his freedom of speech and expression when he regretted the Pakistani cricketers’ exclusion from the IPL? Legal experts said like all other freedoms guaranteed by law, even the freedom to express an opinion was bound by reasonable restrictions.

Khan could have abused the freedom of speech and expression he has been guaranteed under the Indian law only if he had said something that compromised the security of the state, affected India’s relations with a foreign country, was contemptuous of a court of law or directly created public disorder, said legal experts.

Advocate Y P Singh said Khan’s statements did not appear to cross any line and anyone familiar with the constitutional law would have known that the current fuss was absolutely unnecessary. What the actor expressed while speaking about Pakistani cricketers in the IPL was an opinion, and he had exercised a fundamental freedom guaranteed to him by one of the most sacrosanct parts of the Indian Constitution.

Freedom of speech and expression written under Article 19 (1) (a) has been fiercely defended at various times by the Supreme Court in the last 60 years of our republic. Two decades ago in 1989, the Supreme Court said in the Rangarajan vs P Jagjivan Ram case that “free debate’’ and “open discussion’’ were an “integral part of a democracy’’. Even before that, in a 1950 More >