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Tablighi Jamaat case: SC pulls up Centre, observes freedom of speech most abused right in recent times

The Supreme Court on Thursday said freedom of speech and expression is the 'most abused right' in recent times. "Freedom of speech and expression is the most abused right in recent times," the apex court said.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said freedom of speech and expression is the ‘most abused right’ in recent times. “Freedom of speech and expression is the most abused right in recent times,” the apex court said.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which was hearing pleas of Jamiat Ulama I Hind and others alleging that a section of media was spreading communal hatred over Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, pulled up the Centre for its “evasive” and “brazen” affidavit on the issue.

The bench observed this when senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Jamaat, said the Centre in its affidavit has stated that petitioners are trying to muzzle freedom of speech and expression. To this, the bench said, “They are free to make any averment in their affidavit, like you are free to make any argument you want.”

The bench was irked over the fact that instead of secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, an additional secretary filed the affidavit which contained ‘unnecessary’ and ‘nonsensical’ averments with regard to media reporting in Tablighi Jamaat issue. “You cannot treat this court the way you are doing in this case,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The apex court sought an affidavit from the I&B secretary with details of steps taken in the past to stop motivated media reporting in such cases.

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