Can ministers have absolute freedom of speech? | India News – Times of India

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on whether restrictions can be imposed on a public functionary‘s right to freedom of speech and expression.
Why it came up in SC
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on October 5, 2017, had referred the matter to the Constitution bench to adjudicate various issues, including whether a public functionary or a minister can claim freedom of speech while expressing views on sensitive matters. The need for authoritative pronouncement on the issue arose as there were arguments that a minister could not take a personal view and his statements have to be in line with government policies.
What happened now

  • A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice SA Nazeer heard the arguments of Attorney General R Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and lawyers from other parties on the matter on Tuesday. As it reserved its order, the bench said: “How can we frame a code of conduct for legislators? We would be encroaching into the powers of the legislature and the executive.”
  • While Venkataramani submitted before the bench that any additions or modifications of restrictions to a fundamental right have to come from Parliament as a matter of Constitutional principle, Mehta said the issue is more of an academic question — of whether a writ can be filed citing Article 21 for action against a particular statement.

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