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SC to deliver judgment on freedom of speech and expression of law makers

New Delhi: Supreme Court’s Constitution bench will deliver on January 3(Tuesday) the judgment on freedom of speech and expression of law makers.

Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution Bench will deliver its judgment tomorrow on petitions seeking greater restrictions on the fundamental right to free speech of ministers, MP/MLAs and persons holding high state offices.

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice S Abdul Nazeer, and also comprising Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and B V Nagarathna will pronounce the judgement tomorrow.

The Supreme Court will pronounce the judgement tomorrow on the aspect as to whether the case will decide whether the right to free speech and expression, especially of those in public office, may be curtailed by the right to dignity. The Constitution Bench will decide if there should be a written code of conduct for legislators.

The Constitution Bench led by Justice Abdul Nazeer on November 15, had reserved the Judgment on whether the right to free speech and expression of persons in public offices may be curtailed by the right to dignity under the Constitution.

On July 29, 2016, a young girl and her mother were allegedly gang-raped on National Highway 91. When they were on the National Highway passing through Bulandshahr, their car was stopped by criminals who dragged the 13-year-old girl and her mother out and raped them in a field nearby. When the victim of the gangrape filed an FIR, Uttar Pradesh Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan allegedly made a statement terming it a “political conspiracy against the Uttar Pradesh Government”.

In August 2016, the victims approached the Supreme Court and filed a writ petition, seeking action against the minister for making such remarks about the incident. Fearing the absence of a fair investigation in Uttar Pradesh, they requested the Court to transfer the case to another State.

The Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, for Union govt, had submitted that the threshold of restriction to freedom of speech and expression for the public functions could be much higher than the common person.

Mehta argued that the individual made a horrible statement, however the case involves more of an academic question. He argued that the Supreme Court in Poonawala and Amish Devgan case has laid down detailed guidelines for the course of action when hate speeches are made.

Attorney General R Venkatramani argued that the government cannot be held liable for the statements made by the legislators, while adding that such a proposition will lead to an unmanageable situation. Venkatramani submitted that laying down a model code for legislators is in the parliament’s domain and the courts cannot interfere in it. He argued that as a matter of Constitutional principle, any additions or modifications of restrictions to a fundamental right have to come from Parliament.