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SC begins examining issue on curtailing free speech

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New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing whether the fundamental right to free speech can be curtailed on sensitive matters under probe.

On October 5, 2017, the three-judge bench of the top court had referred the matter to the Constitution bench to decide issues related to freedom of speech while expressing views in sensitive matters.

The issue cropped up after former Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan made a controversial comment that the gruesome Bulandshahr gang-rape in 2016, was part of a "political conspiracy". Later he apologised before the top court, which was accepted.

The five-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M. R. Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat will deal with the question whether restrictions provided under the Constitution can be extended and to what level.

On Wednesday, Attorney General K. K. Venugopal told the court that freedom of speech is not absolute and unlike some western countries India has definite and specific exceptions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

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