Friday April 3, 2020
Home India Freedom of sp...

Freedom of speech and expression has limits, says Supreme Court

0
//

Supreme_Court_of_India_-_200705_(edited)

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Supreme Court on Thursday declared that freedom of speech and expression has “constitutional limitation attached to it” and it has to be given a broad canvas. This right cannot be exercised to attribute obscene expletives to “historically respected personality” such as Mahatma Gandhi.

A bench of Justices, Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant, said, “Freedom of speech and expression has to be given a broad canvas, but it has to have inherent limitations which are permissible within the constitutional parameters.”

“We have already opined that freedom of speech and expression as enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution is not absolute in view of Article 19(2) of the Constitution,” they added.

“We reiterate the said right is a right of great value and transcends and with the passage of time and growth of culture, it has to pave the path of ascendancy, but it cannot be put in the compartment of absoluteness. There is constitutional limitation attached to it,” the bench said.

The bench set these standards while hearing the plea of Devidas Ramachandra Tuljapurkar, editor and publisher of a bulletin magazine of All India Bank Employees Association, who was charged with publishing the “obscene” Marathi poem titled Gandhi Mala Bhetala (I Met Gandhi) authored by Vasant Dattatray Gujjar in which Gandhi’s character was ridiculed. The poem was published in 1994 in an in-house bank magazine.

The apex court said in its judgment:

When the name of Mahatma Gandhi is alluded or used as a symbol, speaking or using obscene words, the concept of “degree” comes in. To elaborate, the “contemporary community standards test” becomes applicable with more vigour, in a greater degree and in an accentuated manner. What can otherwise pass of the contemporary community standards test for use of the same language, it would not be so, if the name of Mahatma Gandhi is used as a symbol or allusion or surrealistic voice to put words or to show him doing such acts which are obscene.

The contemporary community standards test is a parameter for adjudging obscenity, and in that context, the words used or spoken by a historically respected personality is a medium of communication through a poem or write-up or other form of artistic work gets signification, the top court said.

“We have already opined that by bringing in a historically respected personality to the arena of section 292 IPC, neither a new offence is created nor an ingredient is interpreted,” the court said. “In the context of obscenity, the provision enshrined under the Indian Penal Code’s section 292 (sale, etc., of obscene books, etc.) has its room to play,” Justice Pant added.

In 1994, after watching the poem in bank premises, Patit Pawan Sanghtan had filed the complaint against the publisher and the author of the poem. Both the trial court and the Bombay High Court declined to unsaddle them of the obscenity charge although they were charged of creating enmity between different sections.

Next Story

Gandhi’s Teachings Still Relevant, Says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Bezos also announced that they have decided to double down the investment for the streaming service in the country. The evening wrapped up with a soulful Sufi performance by music maestro AR Rahman

0
Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

BY SUGANDHA RAWAL 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos feels his trip to India started off on the right note with kites and says he felt honored to be able to lay a wreath on the memorial of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in Delhi.

From dressing in ‘desi’ attire to spending time with some kids to showing off his kite-flying skills on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Bezos made the most of his India trip. He looked back at the time spent in the country during a conversation with superstar Shah Rukh Khan and filmmaker Zoya Akhtar at a glitzy Amazo Prime Video event here.

“Kite flying was fun… Any day when you get fly kite is a good day.. My trip to India started off on the right note with kites,” Bezos said.

Asked about his experience at the Raj Ghat, he said: “It was very peaceful. He truly changed the world and taught us the principle of non-violence. It was a great honour to be there and lay a wreath.”

When SRK asked if Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching still relevant, Bezos said: “It will be relevant forever..They are true but somehow very hard to achieve.”

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks onstage in Seattle. Source-VOA

Bezos, who is ranked amongst top most global billionaires, was on a three-day India visit starting from Tuesday. He has been to India several times, and has noticed one thing about the country.

“I noticed certain things that seem to me to be the same. There is so much energy, colour, full of life, and everywhere you go, there is so much diversity…Every time I come here, I find that the people that I talked to, are focused on and interested in being better tomorrow than they are today. Everybody here seems to be focused on self improvement. So, when I come here I get a boost of energy,” he said.

Be in its India slate or global line-up, Amazon has diverse projects added to its library. Bezos says the aim is to make it a ‘talent friendly” studio.

“I think this is a golden age of television. There are really good TV series in terms of quality of the very best movies. Now, the best storytellers are coming to TV. You’re getting the best actors in television. This is one of those businesses where the viewer always look for something a little fresh, so you can never find formula. As soon as you find a formula, it’s not fresh,” he said.

Also Read: Software Giant Microsoft Aims to be ‘Carbon Negative’ by 2030

Bezos continued: “I want us to be known as the most talent friendly studio in the world. And the reason at the end of the day is that it is the talent that makes those stories. Storytelling is the oldest thing that we’ve been doing it.”

“It is one of the hardest things that humans do is tell riveting inspiring stories,” he added.

Bezos also announced that they have decided to double down the investment for the streaming service in the country. The evening wrapped up with a soulful Sufi performance by music maestro AR Rahman. (IANS)