SC reserves order on issues related to freedom of speech of public functionaries

15 November, 2022 | Pragati Singh

Supreme Court of India Top News

The Supreme Court postponed its decision on Tuesday on whether reasonable limits on the freedom of expression of public officials can be imposed.

The Supreme Court postponed its decision on Tuesday on whether reasonable limits on the freedom of expression of public officials can be imposed.

After hearing the parties’ comments, the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench, chaired by Justice Abdul Nazeer, reserved the order. Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian, and BV Nagarathna joined Justice Nazeer on the court. The court was hearing arguments over public officials’ right of speech. The issue concerns whether a minister can assert the right to “free speech and expression” in order to argue against the Central Government’s statutes and policies.

The Attorney-General of India, R Venkataramani, during the hearing, said that the questions framed in the matter tend to be abstract.

Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj, appearing for the petitioner, said, “In the matter of freedom of speech, the element of public functionaries has been lacking in any other similar case. Advocate Raj further said that to what extent can courts interfere if public functionaries make a hateful speech was never decided by any bench of the court.”

The court questioned how they would draught a code of conduct for public servants since it would infringe on the authority of the legislature and the administration.

The petitioner in the case stated that as the father of the victim girl, he has been disillusioned with the fair inquiry procedure in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The petitioner further said that he is completely confused regarding the inquiry process due to numerous developments in the case, particularly the public speeches given by one of the leaders.

The court is debating whether the words are within the scope of free speech and expression or cross the line into what is not acceptable.

The other issue in this case being dealt with by the court is, whether comments (which are not meant for self-protection), defeat the concept of constitutional compassion and also the conception of constitutional sensitivity.

The Supreme Court, on the last hearing in the case on 28th of September, 2022, posted the hearing of pleas relating to the limits of the right to freedom of speech and expression for high public functionaries such as a Minister of a State for November 15.