Justice Nagaratna: Hate speech attack on constitutional values, government responsible for minister's statement

Pankaj Prasad
Justice Nagaratna
Justice Nagaratna

Justice Nagaratna said, hate speech attacks the fundamental values of our constitution.

In two days, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has given two important decisions. On Monday, the court had justified the demonetisation, then on the second day, the court has given a big decision in the matter of freedom of expression. However, Justice BV Nagaratna, who is part of the constitution bench, has kept a different stand from the bench both times. 

He has said on Tuesday in the case of freedom of expression that hate speech attacks the fundamental values of our constitution. If a minister makes derogatory remarks in his statement, then the government can be held responsible for such statements. In fact, the Supreme Court was hearing a petition asking whether there can be any restriction on the freedom of expression and speech of state or central government ministers, MPs, MLAs or persons holding high positions? 

stand different from the decision of the bench 

Disagreeing with the bench's decision on the issue, Justice Nagaratna said that hate and irresponsible speeches in recent times are a cause of concern as they are harmful to society. Hate speech attacks the fundamental values of the Constitution. He said, in a country like India based on pluralism and multi-culturalism, citizens have mutual responsibilities towards each other.

Parties to control the speech of their ministers 

Justice Nagaratna said that it is up to the party to control the speeches of its ministers. This can be done by making a code of conduct. Any citizen who feels aggrieved by such speeches or hate speech etc. by a public official can approach the court. He said, it is up to the discretion of the Parliament to enact laws to prevent hate speech and derogatory comments. 

What was the verdict given by the bench 

Justices SA Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian have said in a five-judge constitution bench that the statement of a minister cannot be attributed to the government. He has said that there is no need for any additional restriction except the restrictions mentioned under Article 19(2) on the freedom of speech and expression of public representatives.