The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that freedom of speech could not be restricted during elections and people should hear all shades of opinion.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Dipak Misra declined to entertain a petition filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, who sought a direction to the Election Commission to restrain parties and candidates from making hate speeches and false promises. When counsel said parties and candidates should give an undertaking to desist from giving hate speeches, Justice Lodha said: “India is a country of 128 crore people and all should be allowed to express their opinion. Freedom of speech is a precious right given by the Constitution. Don't suggest steps to restrict it.”

“Let all shades of opinion come and people will decide,” Justice Lodha said.

“Freedom of speech and expression is always subject to reasonable restrictions. Instead of protecting the freedom of speech, you are seeking a direction to curb it,” Justice Lodha asked.