Arpan Banerjee

Arpan Banerjee is an Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law School, India (where he serves as the Director of the Centre for IP & Technology Law) and a PhD Candidate (Scientia Scholar) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He is also a visiting lecturer at Bucerius Law School, Germany, and is affiliated with the Centre for IP Research at Indiana University Bloomington. Arpan’s accomplishments include being awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Fellowship, being co-awarded the British Academy Leverhulme Small Research Grant, being selected for the Stanford-Penn International Junior Faculty Forum and winning the ATRIP writing prize in IP law.

Designation: Jindal Global Law School & University of New South Wales
Institution: Jindal Global Law School & University of New South Wales
Paper: The History of Free Speech: An Indo-Centric Response to an Anglo-Centric Narrative
Abstract: "Literature on the history of free speech is dominated with references to John Milton and John Stuart Mill. In my paper, I will argue for greater engagement with non-British/non-Western experiences, using four scattered examples from Indian history as case studies. First, proscriptions against offensive statements about different village communities or the disabled in classical Hindu texts. Second, from a few centuries later, calls for tolerance between religions in the edicts of the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka. Both these examples are evidence that duties in relation to speech — which even modern human right instruments add as a proviso to the right to free speech —were emphasised in ancient India. Third, in medieval India, the providing of asylum and religious freedom by King Vijayaditya to Zoroastrians fleeing religious persecution in Persia. This example shows the significance of law in action, independent of written codes. Fourth, from British India, a petition by Raja Ram Mohan Roy opposing press licensing. Roy was inspired by English utilitarian philosophy, and described by Jeremy Bentham as an ‘[i]ntensely admired and dearly beloved collaborator’. However, while influenced by the West, Roy predated Mill's On Liberty by over 50 years and advanced more elaborate arguments. Thus, even if the the history of free speech is viewed through the lens of Western liberal philosophy, the omission by Western scholars of Roy's petition requires correction."