The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Monday said that it will hear pleas on limits of freedom of speech and expression for politicians from November 15, reported Live Law on Wednesday.
The pleas will be heard by a bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna after the Dussehra break.
On Monday, the Constitution bench was hearing a reference on the question of whether the right to freedom of speech and expression of politicians requires greater restrictions, reported The Hindu.
The case stems from a 2016 petition filed by the family members of a woman, who was raped in Bulandshahr, against former Uttar Pradesh minister and Samajwadi Party leader, Azam Khan. They had objected to him after he had described the rape as a “political conspiracy and nothing else”.
The Supreme Court had directed Khan to submit an unconditional apology for his remarks in December 2016. It had decided to examine the question about imposing restrictions on the free speech of politicians in sensitive matters.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had at that time had asked if more restrictions can be put on persons who hold a high office and private corporations – if they can be held responsible for violating Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty).
On Monday, Justice Nagarathna observed that expanding restrictions on freedom of speech is not recognised by the Constitution, reported Live Law. “Right to freedom of speech and expression is essentially against the state,” noted Nagarathna. “Article 19(2) imposes reasonable restrictions. Now if a particular person has made a speech which is not liked by somebody, the latter can always take action under other laws.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta accepted that politicians should be more cautious in speech, reported The Hindu. However, he added that it might not be possible for the court to lay down a blanket restriction on all politicians.