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Source: The post is based on the article “SC agrees to hear plea challenging first amendment to Constitution” published in Indian Express on 1st November 2022.
What is the News?
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition challenging the changes made to the right to freedom of speech and expression by the first amendment to the Constitution.
What is the basis of the petitioner’s arguments?
Section 3(1) of the Constitution (First Amendment) Act,1951 inserted two clauses – “in the interest of public order” and “in relation to incitement to an offense” – to Article 19(2) that deals with restrictions on freedom of speech. The expression “tends to overthrow the state” was also removed through this amendment.
Section 3(2) of the First Amendment effected validation of certain laws even if they took away or abridged the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Why have the petitioners challenged these amendments?
Firstly, these two insertions protected the following sections of the Indian Penal Code from the vice of unconstitutionality:
1) Sections 124A (sedition)
2) Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc)
3) Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and
4) Section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief)
Secondly, the amendment neglects national security by dropping the expression ‘tends to overthrow the State’ which raises grave concern in the context of the dangers posed to the concept of the secular democratic republic by radicalism, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.
Hence, on this basis, the petitioners urged the court to declare Sections 3 (1)(a) and 3 (2) of the First Amendment “beyond the amending power of Parliament” and void since the “same damage the basic or essential features of the Constitution and destroy its basic structure”.