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Supreme Court orders no extra restrictions to be imposed on freedom of speech for public officials

The SC ruled that a minister's comments about the government or its business could not be used to indirectly represent the government.

By wasmulhaq 
Updated Date

New Delhi: According to the Constitution Bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer, AS Bopanna, BR Gavai, V Ramasubramanian, and BV Nagarathna, the restrictions on the freedom of speech for public officials cannot exceed those mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution, which are exhaustive and applicable to all citizens,

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The Court ruled that a minister’s comments about the government or its business could not be used to indirectly represent the government.

Justice BV Nagarathna ruled in a different judgement that, while freedom of speech and expression is essential for keeping the public informed and educated about government, it cannot be used as hate speech.

The court was hearing a plea filed by a man whose wife and daughter were reportedly gang-raped in July 2016 on a highway near Bulandshahr, seeking a transfer of the case to Delhi.

The plea also demanded that a case be filed against Khan in relation to his contentious claim that the gang rape case was a political plot.

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The Constitution Bench made the observation during the hearing that it is an unwritten rule that those in public service must exercise self-control and make sure they do not utter derogatory words; this must be inculcated into political and civic life.

Justice Nagarthana remarked, “There is a need to have a self-imposed code for those who are in public life.”

The petitioners’ advocate, Kaleeshwaram Raj, urged the bench that a code of conduct for legislators was necessary; earlier judgements pertain only to hate speech.

Attorney General R Venkatramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said to the bench that prior judgements had unveiled this issue in detail and that the reference before this bench is nothing more than a formality.

 

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