‘Can’t stop netas from commenting on acts of crime,’ Centre tells Supreme Courtindia Updated: Mar 30, 2017 00:07 IST
A view of the Indian Supreme Court building is seen in New Delhi.(REUTERS)
Public figures, including politicians, cannot be refrained from commenting on acts of crime because it would affect their right to free speech and expression, Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made this submission before a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra in the context of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s comment on the Bulandhshahr gangrape case. Khan had said the alleged sexual assault on a minor girl (14) and her mother (45) in July last year near a highway on western UP was a political conspiracy.
The survivors had moved the SC seeking CBI investigation as they had lost faith in the local police especially after Khan’s remarks. The CBI took over the probe in March this year.
However, Justice Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar decided to lay down guidelines on whether public personalities, specifically those in power, can comment on an incident even before the investigation starts.
“If an offence of rape occurs and someone says it’s a political conspiracy then there can be no restriction on such expression. He is not trivializing the incident,” the AG told the bench.
However, the court wanted the law officer to weigh right to free speech under Article 19 (1) (a) vis-à-vis the right to live with dignity under Article 21.