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freedom of speech (FoE)

03 August 2015

Markandey Katju committed no offence by dubbing as “nonsense” the Hindu belief that cow is mother, said a Delhi court while rejecting a plea to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the former Supreme Court judge, reported the PTI. The Supreme Court meanwhile told Katju that the parliament was free to condemn his views, reported IANS.

Metropolitan Magistrate Deepika Singh rejected the complaint that was made against Katju under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), Section 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race) of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC).

The complainant claimed that Katju had deliberately uttered these words to hurt religious feelings of the entire Hindu community including the complainant, but Singh observed that Katju’s expression fell within his constitutional freedom of speech and expression.

Meanwhile, Katju had, through senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, filed a plea in the Supreme Court arguing that the parliament had damaged his reputation by condemning him for his statement that Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was a "japanese agent" and Mahatma Gandhi was a "British agent".

The SC bench was headed by justice TS Thakur, and it agreed to hear the matter, appointing senior advocate Fali S Nariman as amicus curiae, but told him that the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha's passage of unanimous resolutions condemning Katju's statements did not violate Katju's freedom of speech and expression.