‘Does right to free speech include right to insult a person’s dignity?’
A constitution bench would decide on the question in a case filed against Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan for making “controversial” statements in the Bulandshahr gang rape incident.india Updated: Apr 21, 2017 00:21 IST
A five-judge constitution bench would decide the question “whether right to free speech and expression” guaranteed under the Constitution will include “the right to insult other person’s right to dignity”.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra asked senior advocates Fali Nariman and Harish Salve to formulate appropriate questions for the reference. The lawyers are assisting the bench in a case filed against Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan for making “controversial” statements in the Bulandshahr gang rape incident.
The survivor’s father had filed the petition before the SC seeking transfer of the case from UP to Delhi after Khan, then a minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government, said the case was a “political conspiracy”. He later tendered an apology in court for his comments. But the bench expanded the scope of the petition to examine if political leaders should be allowed to issue statements on criminal cases that are under investigation.
In the last hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had told the bench that a politician cannot be prosecuted for airing his personal views as there cannot be a moral code of conduct that can be enforced in such cases.
Salve countered the AG’s views and said such comments by a minister while in office affects the right to life and dignity of the victim.