The Chief Justice Dipak Misra led bench of the Supreme Court today referred to a Constitution Bench the issue of laying down a law on action to be taken against individuals holding a public office or a person in authority or in charge of governance making irresponsible statements.
The court had earlier framed four questions while hearing the case where a petition had been filed seeking action against Uttar Pradesh Samajwadi Party leader and former minister Azam Khan for his statement that Bulandshar gang-rape case was a conspiracy to malign the then Samajwadi Party government.
The bench of CJI Misra, and Justices AM Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud referred the matter to constitution bench after the two amicus curiae in the matter senior advocates Harish Salve and Fali Nariman agreed to it saying the matter was of grave importance.
The four questions referred are;
1. When a victim files an F.I.R. alleging rape, gang rape or murder or such other heinous offences against another person or group of persons, whether any individual holding a public office or a person in authority or in-charge of governance, should be allowed to comment on the crime stating that “it is an outcome of political controversy”, more so, when as an individual, he has nothing to do with the offences in question?
2. Should the “State”, the protector of citizens and responsible for law and order situation, allow these comments as they have the effect potentiality to create a distrust in the mind of the victim as regards the fair investigation and, in a way, the entire system?
3. Whether the statements do come within the ambit and sweep of freedom of speech and expression or exceed the boundary that is not permissible?
4. Whether such comments (which are not meant for self protection) defeat the concept of constitutional compassion and also conception of constitutional sensitivity?
The minor victim and her mother had moved the Supreme Court in August seeking action and FIR against the minister.Nariman had on July 31 told the Supreme Court that a law like a Civil Rights Act needed to be framed to enable citizens to protect their fundamental rights against violation by other private individuals or companies.
Khan had tendered an unconditional apology on December 15. But the court has asked Nariman as amicus curiae to assist the court on four significant larger questions to be decided.