No greater restrictions can be imposed on free speech of public functionaries,
No additional restrictions, other than those permissible under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, can be imposed on the right to freedom of speech and expression of citizens, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.
A five-judge Constitution Bench was deciding if greater restrictions could be imposed on the right to free speech of ministers, MPs, MLAs and other persons holding high offices who often made statements that tended to violate fundamental rights of citizens.
By a majority of 4:1, a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice S Abdul Nazeer said the grounds for imposing restrictions on free speech mentioned in Article 19(2) are exhaustive and hence, no restrictions can be imposed on citizens’ free speech on any additional grounds.
Statements made by a minister, even if traceable to affairs of state or protecting the government, can’t be attributed vicariously to the government by applying the principle of collective responsibility, said the majority verdict by Justice Nazeer, Justice BR Gavai, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian.