Bigger Supreme Court bench to examine foul tweets

Another eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman said that he was lucky to not have a Twitter account at all.

New Delhi: Offensive tweets and social media posts came under the Supreme Court’s lens on Thursday as senior lawyer Harish Salve told a three-judge bench that he had to delete his Twitter account because of extremely abusive posts.

Another eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman said that he was lucky to not have a Twitter account at all.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also framed seven questions and referred the issue of offensive posts for adjudication by a five-judge bench.

The bench, which also included Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, asked the larger bench to examine whether the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution includes the right to insult, abuse or defame other person’s right to dignity, protected under Article 21.

The bench was dealing with a plea filed by the victim of Bulandshahar gang rape last year seeking a CBI action against the former UP minister Azam Khan for making statements affecting the dignity of the victim. The proceeding against Mr Khan was dropped after he tendered an apology but the court decided to examine the larger issues.

Reacting to Mr Nariman’s complaint that he himself had suffered at the hands of trolls, Justice Chandrachud said, “I was shocked to see the kind of comments made against Mr Nariman. People feel free to say anything. How can that be? After all, he is an officer of this Court and a senior lawyer of stature.”

Mr Salve said, “It is so disturbing. I was appearing for Christian College and when I came back from court, I saw so many offensive comments that I decided to close my account. They say all kinds of things under the guise of personal views and then there is no accountability.” Mr Nariman agreed with Mr Salve and said, “That’s why I feel it is better to stay away from all this. I am in a reasonably happy state because I don’t have a Twitter account.”

While citing his judgment upholding constitutional validity of criminal defamation, CJI Misra said, “Everyone is abusing everyone else and it looks okay some times. But it pinches when you are attacked. Now, Mr Salve says he has closed his Twitter account and Mr Nariman feels happy he doesn’t have one. Right to reputation is a facet of Article 21 (life and liberty) and that’s what I said in our judgment.”

Mr Nariman said free speech has its own limitations and is subject to prohibition contained under Artice 19 (2) of the Constitution.

The questions framed by the bench for the larger bench to decided include “when a victim files an FIR alleging rape, gang rape or murder or such other heinous offences against another person or group of persons, whether any person holding high office should be allowed to comment on the crime one way or the other and should the State, as the protector of citizens right and responsible for law and order, allow these comments as they have the potentiality to create a distrust in the mind of the victim as regards fair investigation.

Next Story