Supreme Court to hear limits of right to freedom of speech and expression for high public functionaries

Supreme court

The Supreme Court on Monday 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 state for November 15.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice S Abdul Nazeer observed that restrictions on the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, 1950, are to be determined on a case-by-case basis. The bench also comprised Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian, and BV Nagarathna.
The case involves whether a minister can claim the right to “freedom of speech and expression” to speak contrary to the Central Government’s statute and policy.
The case was filed after the then Uttar Pradesh Minister and senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan made an alleged statement terming the Bulandshahr gang-rape case as a “political conspiracy and nothing else” to defame the former Samajwadi Party government.
In April 2017, when the matter was referred to a five-judge Constitution bench, amicus curiae told the apex court that the ministers are bound by the constitutional mandate of collective responsibility and can’t speak contrary to government policy.
In December 2016, the apex court accepted Khan’s unconditional apology in connection with the Bulandshahr gang-rape case.
The survivors had filed a petition before the apex court seeking action against Khan.
The top court had asked if a functionary could make personal comments contrary to government policy on sensitive issues, causing distress.
The incident took place earlier on the intervening night of 29-30 July, when a 35-year-old woman and her minor daughter were allegedly gang-raped by a group of robbers in Bulandshahr district when they were on their way from Noida to Shahjahanpur with the other family members when their vehicle was stopped near a cycle repair shop in Dostpur village on NH-9, which connects Noida and Bulandshahr.