SC agrees to hear plea challenging freedom of speech and expression by the First Amendment to the Constitution

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a PIL challenging the changes made to the right to freedom of speech and expression by the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1951, in which the petitioner argues that the amendment harms the basic structure principle.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, while considering the petition earlier this month, said that there is a “legal issue” which arises “for consideration”, and sought the views of the Centre.

“As the legal issue arises for consideration, it shall be open to the petitioner, who appears in person, and learned counsel for the respondents to file a written summary, relying on the judgments, as well as from five pages Not more,” the bench, which also included Justice JK Maheshwari, said in its October 17 order.

In his plea, the petitioner, senior advocate K Radhakrishnan said, Section 3(1) of the Amendment Act of 1951 substituted the original clause (2) of Article 19 – on the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1). Dealing with sanctions))(a) – with a new clause (2), which includes “two objectionable entries”, which also allows sanctions “in the interest of public order” and “with respect to the abetment of an offence”. The new clause (2) also omitted the expression “tendency to overthrow the state” appearing in the original clause (2).

The petitioner submitted that Section 3(2) of the Amendment Act affected the verification of certain laws even though they took away or curtailed the right to freedom of speech and expression.

The petition states that these two entries under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (words, either spoken or written, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, caste, place of birth, residence, language, etc., or by signs, by visual representation or otherwise and to act prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony, 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and Indian Code 505 (Statements Inciting Public Mischief) of the Penalty “From the Vice President of Unconstitutionality”.

“The two ambiguous expressions unreasonably dilute the fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a),” the petition said. Radhakrishnan submitted, this improper abbreviation “does not advance or sub-serve any constitutional objectives” but “harms, inter alia, democracy and republicanism and the supremacy of the Constitution”.

He said the amendment also neglects national security by removing the expression ‘propensity to overthrow the state’. “The apparent omission of the expression ‘tendency to overthrow the state’ raises serious concern in the context of the threats posed to the concept of a secular democratic republic by bigotry, terrorism and religious fundamentalism,” he said.

The petition urged the court to declare Sections 3(1)(a) and 3(2) of the First Amendment “beyond the amending power of Parliament” and termed it as “damaging the basic or essential features of the Constitution and making it destroy” was declared null. basic structure”.