Seminar: Media & Freedom of Speech

New Delhi – Report of the All India Educational Movement (AIEM) organised a SEMINAR on the theme “Media & Freedom of speech and Constitutional and Legal safeguards”

The seminar was attended by distinguished lawyers, media persons, academicians who spoke on the subject and the importance of free speech with responsibilities in an orderly and civilized society. Advocates Mr. Mehmood Pracha, Mr. Feroz Ghazi, Mr. Abu Bakr Sabbaq and Mr. M.R. Shamshad and Senior Journalist Mr. Prashant Tandon and Prof V.K. Tripathi, human rights activists were invited.  For some reasons, advocates Mehmood Pracha and Feroz Ghazi could not remain present.

All distinguished guests were welcomed by advocate Raees Ahmad who holds the distinction of being a lawyer, a senior media person and a human rights activist human rights and constitutional rights and rights of under trials languishing in prisons who calls a spade a spade and is very vocal regarding.

Mr. Abdul Rashid, Adll Gen Secretary of AIEM, gave a brief introduction of the AIEM and the program and the rationale for choosing the theme of the seminar.

Prof Ms. Kahkashan Danyal was the chief guest and key note speaker. She has been a member of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority under Section 6(2) (c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act. She has a number of publications on women’s issues, legal aid and reforms to her credit during the course of her career.

She spoke at length on the topic. She started from the making of the Constitution of India (for short abbreviates as “CoI”) and the fundamental rights and free speech provisions. She explained to the audience that Fundamental Rights are so called because of the core value and that these rights cannot be taken by the Government and no executive order can be passed against Fundamental Right nor can the parliament make a law against fundamental rights.

The second speaker was   Prof. V. K. Tripathi. He served on IIT faculty for five years and then moved to University of Maryland where he worked for six years on thermonuclear fusion. He started his speech from a social aspect and his efforts to bring about harmony in the aftermath of Bhagalpur riots in 1989, he mentioned his work in riot affected areas in Gujarat, Assam, Western UP and other places.  He stressed on importance of communal harmony.

The third speaker was advocate M.R.Shamshad. M.R. Shamshad is an eminent lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court of India and has appeared in various Constitutional Law matters. He has also been chairperson of a 10 member fact finding committee constituted by the DMC to report on the communal conflagration in North East Delhi during February 2020.Advocate Shamshad also spoke on the Constitutional values and legal safeguards and also but he also made certain practical observations. He made a very pointed observation that the current environment should not be seen from a political dimension because the Constitutional safeguards have been applied or not applied very selectively since the very commencement of the CoI and there is nothing new in today’s scenario. He emphasized that the right to freedom of speech will be saved not by speaking less but rather by speaking more.

The fourth speaker was Mr. Prashant Tandon, senior journalist. He is a three decade veteran in journalism currently editor of Freedom Express- news media house on digital platform. He was Managing editor of TV 9 GROUP, Executive Editor with India TV, Editor news gathering with IBN 7 (NOW NEWS 18) AND star News (Now ABP news). He spoke during the seminar from the journalistic perspective and media’s duty to the public wrt to freedom of information and citizen’s duty towards any news item.   He also emphasized rightly that the makers of the CoI did not create a separate category of free speech by media entities or persons but rather kept it as part of free speech only in generic manner under Article 19. He said that this did not create media as a separate class and today any assault on media would be seen as an assault on free speech to the masses and thus masses would standby with media persons.

The last speaker, though not least, was a dynamic advocate Abu Bakr Sabbaq. Advocate Abu Bakr Sabbaq is a young renowned criminal lawyer and a social activist in Delhi. He has also been member of a 10 member fact finding committee constituted by the DMC to report on the communal conflagration in North East Delhi during February 2020.He spoke from the various cases he  is engaged in protecting the civil rights of common citizens especially those who are framed by security forces and agencies under terrorism related incidents and those who have been targeted in Mob lynching by the extremist groups and also those who unlawfully become by victims of communal riots. He mentioned that it is very important for citizens to follow the law and also keep evidentiary record of their innocence as it helps during trial.

The speeches were moderated by Advocate Aslam Ahmed, member of AIEM and who also practices in the Supreme Court of India and was one of the organisers of the program. Aslam highlighted to the audience that the importance of Constitution as a rule book.

President AIEM thanked Prof Kahkashan Danyal and other speakers i.e.  for having spared time and agreeing to be the chief guest and distinguished speakers on the seminar theme and giving useful insights in the making of the CoI as well legal framework for free speech. He also reiterated that knowledge of law and its importance in securing one’s right would be very important to preserving democracy and social fabric of our great country.

Mr. Khwaja Shahid, President, Mr. Abdul Rashid, Addl General Secretary, Mr. Mozaffar Ali, General Secretary, Adv. Aslam Ahmed, Treasurer and Ms. Mamdooha Majid and Dr. Haleema Sadia Executive Member AIEM, played key role in organizing the conference and making it a success. Mr. Raees Ahmad, advocate and Janab Mohammed Ilyas Saifi and Ejaz Ghauri contributed immensely to the success of the event.

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