Indian courts have always upheld free speech: Jaitley

New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said courts in the country have always upheld and defended the right to free speech and expression.

“Courts in India have always defended the right to free speech, guaranteed under the Article 19 of Indian constitution. We can compete with European courts in this,” said Jaitley while addressing a session at the Times LitFest being held in the city.

Following Independence, he said, the judicial system in the country was “weak” as it was “overpowered” by the governments. But there were many landmark judgements that “resisted” the government’s authority, he added.

Speaking about “Five legal cases that have shaped Indian democracy”, he mentioned two such cases holding significance in the context. Jaitley said the Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala case was the “most important” case in history as the Supreme Court outlined the basic structure of the Indian constitution.

Jaitley also said Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India was another case, where Gandhi’s passport was impounded by the state, that highlighted the “supremacy of fundamental rights” in the country.

He also said the “judgement on gay sex should be reconsidered” by the courts.

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