Freedom of speech and expression is a universal human right and thereby, it is not the prerogative of the politician or those higher up in the authorities. Nor is it the privilege of the journalist but rather, journalists across the globe are simply exercising every citizen’s right to free speech and expression. And in a democratic society or country like India, a free press is a fundamental part, for before Democracy came, free speech and expression already existed. And the Press is the voice of people, it is the voice of the voiceless. The Press existed even before independence and it certainly proves that any sort of media or press is by the people of the state not by the ruling body. Hence, the press seeks and circulates news, information, ideas, comment and opinion and holds those in authority to account. The press provides the platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard. At every level, be it the national, international, state, the press acts as a watchdog, educator, an activist or even a guardian. So, what happens when such an important element is blocked, put down or suppressed by those in the higher authority? It is equal to blocking people from knowing the truth or speaking out the truth.
The Criminal Contempt filed against The Morning Bell for merely publishing a story is one such move to prevent the people of the state from being informed, educated or even expression their speck. In other words, it is blocking one’s very right of freedom of speech and expression instilled in the Indian Constitution (Article 19). And when one is prevented or censored from such constitutional or universal rights, it is an act of autocracy or dictatorship on the part of those imposing. And India, as a democratic country, was seen deem by the founding fathers and hence, the right to freedom of speech and expression and it is a right that cannot be just taken away.
And for Manipur, which became a full-fledged state in 1972, to function well at the top and be one of the flourishing states of a democratic country, it is vital that freedom of speech and expression and of the media, should function well with the support of the government. It is vital for the government and media to work hand in hand for the betterment of the state. Together, they must play a role to reach out to the far corners of the state with news and information, educate and enlighten the people. On the contrary, if the government tries to control the media or any authority in the higher ups tries to do so, it can only lead to failure of a system and ultimate failure of a government and a state. With that, the press must be given the freedom to work its way for the betterment of the government, the system and the state. Only then will a state like Manipur flourish. Trying to suppress and control the media or the press will only give rise to more voices, for the press existed before democracy and it will exist even after democracy is long gone. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.