SC agrees to hear plea challenging First Amendment to Constitution

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a PIL challenging the changes made to the right to free speech and expression by the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1951, the petitioner claiming that the amendment violates the doctrine of the structure basic.

A bench presided over by Judge Sanjiv Khanna, who took up the plea earlier this month, said there was a “legal issue”, which arises “for consideration”, and sought the Centre’s opinion.

“As the legal question arises for consideration, it will be open to the petitioner, who appears in person, and to the learned counsel for the respondents to file a written summary, not exceeding five pages, together with founded judgments” , the bench, which also includes Judge JK Maheshwari, said in its Oct. 17 order.

In his pleading, the claimant, lead solicitor K Radhakrishnan, said section 3(1) of the 1951 Amendment Act replaced the original clause (2) of section 19 – dealing with reasonable restrictions on liberty of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) – with a new subparagraph (2), which contained “two objectionable insertions” allowing for restrictions also “in the interest of public order” and “in connection with incitement to an offence”. The new Clause (2) also omitted the phrase “tends to overthrow the State” as it appeared in the original Clause (2).

Section 3(2) of the Amendment Act validated certain laws even though they removed or restricted the right to freedom of speech and expression, the petitioner said.

The petition argued that these two insertions protected Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promotion of enmity among different groups on grounds of religion, race, birthplace, residence, language, etc., by words, spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony, 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or his religious beliefs) and 505 (statements leading to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code “unconstitutionally flawed”.

“The two dubious expressions inserted unduly restrict the fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a),” the petition states. This undue curtailment “does not advance or serve any constitutional purpose,” but “harms, among other things, democracy, republicanism, and the supremacy of the Constitution,” Radhakrishnan argued.

The amendment also neglects national security by removing the phrase “tends to overthrow the state”, he said. “The blatant omission of the phrase ‘tends to overthrow the state’ raises serious concerns in the context of the dangers posed to the concept of a secular democratic republic by radicalism, terrorism and religious fundamentalism,” he said. he declares.

The plea urged the court to declare sections 3(1)(a) and 3(2) of the First Amendment “beyond the power of amendment of Parliament” and void since “the same damages impair the fundamental or essential characteristics of the Constitution and destroy its basic structure”.