No additional restrictions against free speech for MPs, MLAs: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that no additional restrictions can be imposed on the freedom of speech of public functionaries, ministers, MPs and MLAs under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna, said that no additional restrictions, other than those prescribed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, can be imposed on a citizen under the right to freedom of speech and expression.

It said that statement made by the minister cannot be vicariously attributed to the government and the minister is liable for the statement himself.

Justice Nagarathna wrote a separate judgement and gave dissent views on some of the issues saying, “For a country like us, freedom of speech and expression is a much-needed right so that citizens are well informed and educated on governance.”

“Public functionaries and celebrities having regard to their reach and impact they have on public have to be more responsible and be more restraint on speech since it impacts the citizens at large,” she said in a separate judgement.

Justice Nagarathna further said that hate speech in a sense strikes at the foundational values by making the society unequal and also attacks citizens from diverse backgrounds, especially in a country like ours that is Bharat.

“It shall be the duty of every Indian to uphold the dignity of every individual irrespective of religion, caste etc. and also uphold the dignity of women,” she added.