Supreme Court ask the centre’s stand on Criminal Defamation

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Supreme Court after striking down section 66A of IT Act now has agreed to check on the constitutional validity of Section 499 and 500 of Indian Penal Code which states about defamation and offence punishable for up to a term of 2 years in jail. While quashing Section 66A, Solicitor General told that apex court had considered it as unconstitutional and vague but defamation penal provisions as specific in nature.

Justices Prafulla C Pant and Dipak Misra have asked the government to speak up on decriminalising defamation law. Court heard the plea which was filed against Subramanian Swamy for defamation case filed by AIADMK Chief Jayalalitha. Any defamation matter can be stated by filing a civil suit too. Court also noted whether defamation should remain only a civil wrong or not.

As Criminal defamation is unconstitutional and it also puts a lot of unnecessary restrictions on people’s right to speak freely must be scrapped as it also violates fundamental rights was the contention of Subramanian Swamy.

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P S Narasimha who is the Additional Solicitor General, has told the court that defamation is explained under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.  This deals with restrictions on freedom of speech but Section 500 of Indian penal code is not illegal but legal. Court directed the central government after listing to the arguments, that the government of Tamil Nadu should file an affidavit and so it permitted for 4 weeks’ time limit.

T R Andharujina and K Parasaran who are the senior advocates and were appointed by the court to act as friend of the court (Amicus Curie) in this matter and so they too confirmed that this matter needs a good debate.

This matter had been stayed earlier and now Court again extended the stay for further orders against Swamy. There are nearly 5 defamation matters are filed against Swamy.  Swamy, on some social network, had made contradictory statements against Jayalalitha and so he was booked for defamation case. For all the people who are in public life, criminal defamation is a good friend.

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by Sushma Javare.