National Affairs

No Additional Restrictions On Freedom Of Speech Of Lawmakers : SC

Regarding the freedom of speech, the Constitution Bench has given an important decision and said that no additional restrictions can be imposed on the freedom of expression and speech of state or central government ministers, MPs / MLAs and persons holding high positions. 

There is already a comprehensive provision in Article 19 of the Constitution. In criminal cases, the statement made by the government or the minister related to its affairs cannot be considered as the statement of the government. 

It is the duty of the government to positively protect the fundamental rights of a citizen.

 Even if the violation is committed by a non-state actor.

The decision has been heard by the constitution bench of Justice S Abdul Nazeer, Justice Bhushan R Gavai, Justice AS Bopanna, Justice V Rama Subramaniam and Justice BV Nagaratna. 

Justice Ramasubramanian pronounced this decision of the majority. 

However, Justice BV Nagaratna, who was included in the bench, gave her own separate verdict. 

Justice Nagaratna made it clear that apart from the reasonable restrictions given in Article 19(2), additional restrictions cannot be imposed on public representatives. 

She had a different view on whether the minister’s statement should be considered as the government’s statement or not.

She says that ministers can give statements in both personal and official capacity. If the minister is giving a statement in his personal capacity, then it will be considered as his personal statement. But if he is giving a statement related to the work of the government, then his statement can be considered as a collective statement of the government.

She also disagreed with the majority’s decision on the question that rights under freedom of speech and to life cannot be claimed against private individuals and non-state actors except in habeas corpus cases before constitutional courts. 

She said that Parliament has to make laws to prohibit citizens and government officials from making derogatory remarks, especially on fellow citizens. Political parties should control the speech of their members which can be done by code of conduct.

Justice Nagaratna said that the access of public functionaries and other influential persons and celebrities has more influence on the public or a certain section. 

In such a situation, one should be responsible and restrained in his speech.
They need to understand and measure their words with regard to the possible consequences on public sentiment and behaviour. It should also be known that they are setting examples for fellow citizens to follow. Fraternity was based on the idea that citizens have mutual responsibilities to each other and, inter alia, tolerance, co-operation and mutual aid Let’s take the ideals of.

It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to maintain and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country. To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional and sectional diversities. It is the constitutional obligation of every citizen to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women and to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity. So that the nation may continually rise to higher levels of endeavor and achievement. The fundamental duties of citizens also constitute the core constitutional values ​​for good citizenship in our democracy.

All citizens were enjoined with the obligation to promote fraternity, harmony, unity and collective welfare.” It is for political parties to regulate and control the actions and speech of their office-bearers and members. This is done through a code of conduct. which shall determine the limits of acceptable speech by the office-bearers and members of the political parties concerned.

In fact, on 15 November 2022, the court had reserved the verdict. The bench had on September 28 said that it is necessary to frame “general guidelines in thin air” to prevent public leaders including government ministers, MPs, MLAs or political party presidents from making indecent, defamatory and hurtful statements in public.

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