Pandemic & Section 144: Unravelling the Debate Between Freedom of Speech and Suppression of Fake News

By Deepnainee Kaushal
The Constitution of India entitles right articulate speech and expression under the dominion of article 19(1)(a). The debate between the extent of such freedom and the restriction posed by the government was recently resurrected in the arduous time of COVID- 19 pandemic when the Mumbai Police Commiserate came up with a circular to control the propagation of fake news and hate messages. The order however, categorically made sharing of messages that criticizes the State Government, a crime. The paper analysis the philosophical viewpoint and Indian legal position with regards to the freedom to speak and express freely of discourse and articulation. The freedom encompasses right to criticize the government within its ambit. The research critiques on use of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to put a curfew on fundamental rights. Social media has emerged as an important platform of sharing information. However, lately it has been robotically hijacked to promote political propaganda. The outpour of misinformation during Covid-19 pandemic has increased to an extent that it has posed a threat on the doctrine of free speech. In this backdrop, there is undeniably a desideratum for comprehensive analysis of how the freedom operates as an instrument of Constitutional bulwark and to examine how democratic is social media. The paper provides in depth analysis of the gag order and concludes that the principle of proportionality needs