SHILLONG, Dec 8 � Coming right after the recent controversy over posting of comments on Facebook and other social network, Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir said here today that Freedom of speech and expression cannot be used as an instrument to �hit someone below the belt.�
Emphasising that Freedom of Speech and Expression is one of the most important fundamental rights of a citizen; he, however, added that the right must be used in a �proper and disciplined manner� so that it doesn�t offend others.
�Freedom of expression is one of the most important fundamental rights in a democracy and must be used properly in a disciplined manner without hitting someone under the belt. It must be used reasonably,� the Chief Justice suggested.
On section 66 A of Information Technology Act, 2000, the Chief Justice on the other hand refused to say much as the matter is pending before the Court.
A PIL was filed by a Delhi student recently, to amend the section as the �the phraseology of Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 is so wide and vague and incapable of being judged on objective standards, that it is susceptible to wanton abuse and hence falls foul of Article 14, 19 (1)(a) and Article 21 of the Constitution.� Under the section of the IT Act, anyone can be punished for sending offensive messages, information, etc., through computer resource or a communication device. The PIL argues that the section violates Freedom of Speech and Expression.
Kabir said that the section needs more clarity adding that it can be misused in its present form as the language has a wide interpretation. He said that points have been brought before people involved in framing of the rules so that �ways and means can be channelised.�
The Chief Justice, who was here to launch a programme of legal aid awareness classes and clubs in schools and colleges, also said that in exercising ones right to speech and expression an individual must �self-regulate.�
He said that freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1 and 2) can be balanced to some extent, but he said, the best option before the people is to adopt an approach of self-regulation.
�We have to self-regulate and if we say, for example, that we mustn�t then we create a difficult situation. We have to know where to draw the line,� Kabir added.