The SC bench will examine whether the controversial disparaging remarks made by Kerala electricity minister Mani come within the ambit of free speech.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a five-judge constitutional bench to examine whether the controversial disparaging remarks made by Kerala electricity minister M.M. Mani against women, individuals and government officials will come within the ambit of free speech.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud referred the special leave petition filed by Joseph Shine against a Kerala high court verdict in May dismissing his plea.
The bench after hearing counsel Kaleeswaram Raj and Suvidutt Sundaram tagged the matter with a pending issue relating to the hate speech of former Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan.
The constitutional bench is to examine whether such statements from ministers exceeded the boundaries of free speech that is not permissible and whether such comments (which are not meant for self protection) defeat the concept of constitutional compassion and also the conception of constitutional sensitivity.
Assailing the high court order, the petitioner said free speech has constitutional limits as prescribed by Article 19(2) of the Constitution and Mr Mani does not have an unlimited right to speak offending the principles of decency and morality.
He said the minister crossed all permissible limits in his speech, in uttering derogatory words against specific individuals, government officials and against the society in general.