Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics  |  July 27, 2022

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This article examines the right to commercial speech that has been read into the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Restrictions on this right are only permitted if they come within the ambit of the exhaustive list of reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2), under which public health is notably absent. Nevertheless, through the doctrine of harmonious construction, the Indian judiciary have adopted a purposive interpretation to circumvent the omission of public health by carving up freedom of commercial speech into two parts: protected speech which furthers public interest and unprotected speech which is purely commercial. Moreover, the Indian courts have construed these provisions in light of the right to life under Article 21 and the health-related Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution. This article concludes that judicial creativity in India has consistently been used in favor of protecting public health.

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