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Bombay High Court: Freedom of Speech and Expression not an ‘Absolute Right’

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The Bombay High Court Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik observed that

“freedom of speech and expression guaranteed to the citizens through Article 19 of the Constitution is not an absolute right”  

In the case of Sunaina Holey, 38, a Navi Mumbai resident, who has been booked U/S IPC sections 505 (2) for statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes and 153 (A) for promoting enmity between different religious groups, and under relevant sections of the IT Act.

The Bombay High Court said freedom of speech and expression guaranteed to the citizens through Article 19 of the Constitution was not an absolute right, and came with restrictions.

The Court said this after listening to a petition of a woman seeking interim protection from arrest for allegedly sharing a caricature of Maharashtra Chief Minister and his son on Social Media Platform.  

The bench headed refused to grant the women interim protection, But, asked the state government to assure that she is not arrested till the matter is brought up for the next hearing in two weeks.  

Defendant Advocate Submitted “This has now attained a political colour and for every tweet I have an FIR registered. I am having to run from pillar to post,”  

The bench stated that one’s right to free speech and expression under Article 19 is not absolute. “Perhaps citizens are under the impression that freedom of speech and expression is an absolute right, without any restrictions,”