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Free speech of MPs and MLAs: SC reserves order as Centre seeks lawmakers' accountability for hate speech

Free speech of MPs and MLAs: SC reserves order as Centre seeks lawmakers' accountability for hate speech

Free speech of MPs and MLAs: SC reserves order as Centre seeks lawmakers' accountability for hate speech
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By Ashmit Kumar  Nov 15, 2022 2:51:34 PM IST (Published)

The Supreme Court was hearing pleas pertaining to the limits of right to freedom of speech and expression for public functionaries.

The Supreme Court reserved its judgment on imposing additional restrictions on the free speech of ministers, MPs and MLAs, prescribing detailed guidelines on hate speech. The Supreme Court on Tuesday was hearing pleas about the limits of the right to freedom of speech and expression for public functionaries.

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During the hearing, the Centre said the case need not be heard by a five-judge-bench and sought accountability for lawmakers for hate speech.
The Attorney General argued that imposing liability on the state based on comments by lawmakers would be untenable. He said Parliament should be left alone to decide on the issue.
The Attorney General further said lawmakers have no additional protection against hate speech. "They are also liable to face the music of the law," he said.
What did the pleas say
The pleas filed before the Supreme Court alleged unchecked hate speech by lawmakers and argued that comments by lawmakers have a far more significant impact. They also sought additional restrictions on hate speech by MLAs.
The court had earlier referred the issue of restrictions on the free speech of lawmakers to a five-judge-bench.
During the hearing on Tuesday, petitioners said the Supreme Court must direct for a voluntary code of conduct by MLAs, MPs, and an ombudsman.
"We have cited 20 instances where everyone from daily wage labourers to even the President is not spared from disparaging comments by MPs and MLAs. The UK has a voluntary code of conduct. We can look at something similar in India," the petitioners said.
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