09:34 GMT +314 November 2019
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    Ram Nath Kovind, center, waves to media upon arrival at the airport in New Delhi, India, June 19, 2017

    Balance, Equality Needed in Allowing Freedom of Speech, says India's Newly-Appointed Chief Justice

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday appointed Supreme Court Judge Sharad Arvind Bobde as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) – the chief of the country’s top court. He will officially take charge of the office from 18 November.

    Weighing in on the debate on the Right to Freedom of Speech, India's Chief Justice Designate Bobde said there is a high degree of discrimination in its application, with some given excessive license and others punished for demanding it.

    "There has never been an era when freedom of speech has had such width for some people," Bobde told Indian daily the Times of India.

    He added that Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which grants freedom of expression to citizens, has been fervently protected by the top court since the imposition of the national emergency – a 21-month period starting in 1975, when the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed prohibitory orders, including curbs on media across the country.

    The CJI-designate also spoke about the presence of women judges in courts. "I will strive for an objective and unbiased approach to select more women judges. However, the problem is availability. They have to be 45 years or older to be eligible for selection as High Court judges. So, we cannot create women judges for constitutional courts overnight. They have to be in the system," he said.

    The tenure of CJI-designate Bobde, who will take over from the incumbent CJI Ranjan Gogoi, will continue until 23 April 2021. 

    He will assume charge during a crucial time, when the country will be coming to terms with incumbent CJI's ruling on Ayodhya issue – a decades-old politically-sensitive land dispute case between Hindu and Muslim stakeholders, involving the construction of a temple in the place of a mosque in Ayodhya (city in India's State of Uttar Pradesh).



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