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The essence of free speech is the ability to think and
speak freely and to obtain information from others
through publications and public discourse without fear of
retribution, restriction, or repression by the government.
Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and
used to encourage orpersuade an audience (viewers,
readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to
continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the
desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with
respect to a commercial offering, although political and
ideological advertising is also common.
The principles, as stated in the case of Reckitt &
Coleman of India Ltd v Kiwi TTKLtd (63 (1996)
DLT 29), are as follows:
a) An advertisement can declare that the
advertised goods are the best in the world, even
though this declaration is untrue;
b) An advertisement can state that the advertised
goods are better than those of competitors, even if
this statement is untrue;
c) An advertisement can compare the advertised
goods with those of competitors;
d) An advertisement cannot, while stating that the
advertised goods are better than those of a competitor,
state that the competitor’s products are bad, as this
would be defamation;
e) In a case of defamation, damages can be claimed.
The court can also grant aninjunction against repetition of
the defamatory action
In many countries, the government controls media so
that nobody can publish or broadcast anything that the
government considers harmful, immoral or threatening
for the stability of the country. Censorship is regulated by
a particular body or the government that retains the
power base, on the media content.
Advertising which is no more than a commercial
transaction, is nonetheless dissemination of
information regarding the product advertised. Public
at large is benefitted by the information made
available through the advertisement. In a democratic
economy free flow of commercial information is
indispensable. There cannot be honest and
economical marketing by the public at large without
being educated by the information disseminated
An advertisement is no doubt a form of speech but its
true character is reflected by the object for the promotion
of which it is employed. It assumes the attributes and
elements of the activity under Article 19(1) which it seeks
to aid by bringing it to the notice of the public.
It allows us to freely express our ideas and thoughts through
any medium such as print, visual, and voice. One can use any
communication medium of visual representation such as
signs, pictures, or movies. Freedom of speech would amount
to nothing if it were not possible to propagate the ideas. Thus,
the freedom of publication is also covered under freedom of
speech. Freedom of speech serves 4 purposes:
a) Allows an individual to attain self fulfillment.
b) Assists in the discovery of truth.
c) It strengthens the capacity of a person to make decisions.
d) It facilitates a balance between stability and social change.
It is necessary to maintain and preserve freedom of
speech and expression in a democracy, so also it is
necessary to place some restrictions on this freedom for
the maintenance of social order, because no freedom
can be absolute or completely unrestricted. Accordingly,
under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India, the State
may make a law imposing “reasonable restrictions” on
the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and
expression “in the interest of” the public on the following
a) Security of State
b) Friendly relations with foreign states
c) Public Order
d) Decency or morality
e) Contempt of Court
g) Incitement to an offence Sovereignty and integrity of
1. Consumer Protection Act- This statute provides for the
establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Council
with the object of promotion and protection of the rights
of the consumer, including protection against unfair trade
practices. The Act also empowers the District Forum to
take measures to discontinue the unfair trade practices.
2. The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice act,
1969: It had been the most effective Act in the eighties
and nineties to regulate undesirable advertising. In the
year 1984, the government brought, through an
amendment, "unfair trade practices" under the purview of
the MRTP Commission and the Office of the Director
General (Investigation and Registration).
3. Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act)
4.Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)
5. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable
6. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act,
7. SEBI (Mutual Funds Regulation), 1996
restriction on media i.e freedom of speech and expression