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'Freedom of Speech Most Abused Freedom in Recent Times': SC While Hearing Tablighi Jamaat Petitions

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Chief Justice of India SA Bobde passed the remarks while hearing a bunch of petitions, alleging demonisation of Muslims by a section of media through the manner of their reporting on the Tablighi Jamaat issue.

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Utkarsh Anand

Freedom of speech is the most abused freedom in recent times, observed the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde passed the remarks while hearing a bunch of petitions, alleging demonisation of Muslims by a section of media through the manner of their reporting on the Tablighi Jamaat issue.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioners, including Jamiat Ulema I Hind, had objected to a part in the Central government's affidavit. It stated that the petitioners are trying to muzzle the freedom of speech by targeting the media.

Responding, the bench, led by the CJI, said that everyone is entitled to say what they feel and believe.

"Like you are entitled to say a lot of things, they are too. We must also tell you that freedom of speech is the most abused freedom in recent times," added Justice Bobde.

The hearing, however, could not proceed as the bench was displeased over a junior-level officer filing the affidavit on behalf of the government in the matter.

The CJI told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta: "You can't treat this court the way you are treating. Some of your junior officer, some additional secretary, has filed the affidavit which is completely evasive."

As Mehta submitted that he will have a senior official file a better affidavit, the CJI further said: "You have the secretary of this department file an affidavit without making such nonsensical averments like the petitioners haven't showed any instance of bad media reporting."

The court also asked the government to bring on record all relevant statutes with regard to regulating the TV channels.

The case will be heard next after two weeks.


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