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  India   All India  24 Oct 2019  Supreme Court to examine if free speech can be curtailed

Supreme Court to examine if free speech can be curtailed

Published : Oct 24, 2019, 1:47 am IST
Updated : Oct 24, 2019, 2:55 am IST

Freedom of speech is not absolute, says A-G Venugopal.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday commenced hearing on the question whether a minister in a government or a person holding a public office could be saddled with additional restrictions, beyond those provided under the Constitution, on his freedom of speech curbing him from commenting on the matters being investigated by the state agencies.

The core issue being examined by the court is whether the right conferred under Article 19(1)(a) is to be controlled singularly by the restrictions under Article 19(2) or whether Article 21 too would have any impact on it.

Addressing the question whether “reasonable restriction” spelled out under Article 19(2) could be enlarged to restrict a minister from commenting on sensitive matters being is probed by investing agencies, Attorney General K.K.Venugopal pointed to a five-judge constitution bench about the collective responsibility of the government including for the acts of individual ministers.

Headed by Justice Arun Mishra, five-judge constitution bench has Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Vineet Saran, Justice M.R.Shah and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat.

Addressing the questions to be examined in the course of the hearing Attorney General said could State proceed against an individual on the ground that his statement violated the fundamental right to life including right to life with dignity of another individual.

Saying that freedom of speech was not “absolute”, the AG wondered whether existing restrictions under the Article 19(2) could be expanded to introduce further restrictions on the freedom of speech of a minister.

At this Justice Mishra queried whether free speech could be restricted by invoking right to life ubnder Article 21 of the constitution on the grounds that affects another persons right to lead a dignified life.

Saying that instead of introducing new restrictions on the right to free speech of a minister, Justice Bhat said that the there should be a statutory regime and recourse could be taken under Article 226 to deal with such situation.

Tags: freedom of speech, supreme court