India needs to undo its colonial era laws on free expression if it hopes to build a decent enough future

Contrary to what a lot of Indians think, Indians do not right to free speech. All the rights enshrined in Indian constitution are what we call “best effort” privilege granted by government and not a natural right merely recognized by constitution.

India’s first amendment to its constitution brought in by then PM Jawaharlal Nehru, scratched the “free speech” from rights and made it so that Indians can express themselves freely as long as it is consistent with rest of the government laws.

A weak constitution and a British era law has made free speech a perilous concept in India. Almost every famous Individual in this country in creative profession from Amitabh to Amazon have got sued for “hurting sentiments” one way or another.

As a third world country this is expected. A poor country has very few successful people and those who are successful need to be pretty tight with the politicians. Police complaints can hence be dealt without causing much disruption.

However as the country grows this sort of extortion becomes prohibitive to run any kind of business. As shown in the Netflix’s case. Note that the person filing this complaint is probably some kind of attention seeking low level party worker. Even if Netflix executives eventually get rid of the whole case, there is simply no punishment for the accuser for making a false accusation.

But, what is weird about India’s laws is that, this is a criminal complain and not merely some kind of cease and desist order. If some series indeed is bad, Netflix should merely be asked not to publish it instead of threatening its executives to jail.

But the whole reason for the laws is that it was created by British to keep the natives under control.