Centre For Communication Governance
at nlu Delhi


Workshop on Criminalization of Speech and the Defence of Journalists

The Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi and the Media Legal Defence Initiative organised a workshop on 7th September 2013 at National Law University, Delhi, on the topic of Criminalization of Speech and the Defence of Journalists.

The workshop discussed recent legislations and litigation around themes such as defamation, national security, sedition and offending religious sentiments as well as cross-cutting issues around the liability of intermediaries, due process and the availability of legal resources. The invitees for the workshop are drawn from practitioners across the country, and also include a small number of lawyers from Nepal, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The conference tired to 
 non-urban and far-flung regions, which tend to be conflict-ridden or choice jurisdictions for filing of defamation suits.

Draft Workshop Programme

“Criminalization of Speech and the Defence of Journalists”

 Saturday, 7 September 2013

National Law University, Delhi


  • Brief Welcome and Overview of Agenda

 Keynote Address

Session 1: Journalists and the Criminal Law – an overview

  • Mapping out the issues and challenges, for rural and urban journalists, online and offline, as regards:

○     defamation

○     national security, sedition

○     offending religious sentiments

○     intermediary liability

○     IT Act Rules

This session will feature a moderated discussion between panellists, each covering aspects of the above, followed by roundtable discussion.

Session 2: Pending and recent cases – what are the issues as regards defence of journalists

  • To focus on issues raised for the defence of cases against journalists and bloggers. Following on from the first, scene-setting, session, this will delve deeper into the practical and legal issues raised in the defence of cases against journalists and bloggers. This will be a moderated session featuring speakers, each of whom will discuss a recently concluded or pending case that raises pertinent issues, followed by moderated roundtable discussion. The session will be focused on freedom of expression litigation but include issues.


Session 3: Online Resources and Tools for Engagement and Knowledge Sharing

Session 4: Building a Legal Network for the defence of Freedom of Expression

  • This session will discuss the need for and possibility of building a network of lawyers for the defence of journalists and freedom of expression. It will draw on experiences from organisations including the Human Rights Law Network and Alternative Law Forum in India as well as Media Defence – Southeast Asia, the network of media defence lawyers in Southeast Asia and the International Bar Association. The session will cover questions such as how to find fellow lawyers to seed the network; sharing information and best practices; partnering with NGOs and/or corporations on certain issues; and how to stay in touch and learn from each other.

 Session 5: Next steps

  • To wrap up conclusions from the preceding sessions and discuss next steps.