Supreme Court agrees to hear plea challenging first amendment to the Constitution



The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition challenging the changes made to the right to freedom of speech and expression by the first amendment to the Constitution, reported The Indian Express on Monday.

“As legal issue arises for consideration, it will be open to the petitioner, who appears in-person, and learned counsel for the respondents to file written synopsis, not exceeding five pages, along with relied upon judgments,” the court said in its October 17 order.

The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, which was passed by the Jawaharlal Nehru government, inserted two clauses – “in the interest of public order” and “in relation to incitement to an offence” to Article 19(2) that deals with restrictions on freedom of speech. The expression “tends to overthrow the state” was also removed.

“The two questionable expressions inserted unduly abridge the fundamental right under Article 19 (1)(a),” the petitioner, Radhakrishnan, said. The changes do not “advance or sub serve any constitutional objectives but damages, inter alia democracy and republicanism and supremacy of the Constitution”, he said.

He also said that the two clauses protect Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code “from the vice of unconstitutionality”.

The amendment also ignores national security by dropping the expression “tends to overthrow the State” and raises concern for the country from the dangers of radicalism, terrorism and religious fundamentalism, he added.

Radhakrishnan urged the court to declare Sections 3(1)(a) and 3(2) of the first amendment that brought the changes “beyond the amending power of Parliament” and void since the “same damage the basic or essential features of the Constitution and destroy its basic structure”.



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