Supreme Court upholds Constitutional Validity of the Criminal Defamation law of India

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New Delhi: Today, on Friday, 13th May, the honourable Supreme Court of India, held the penal provisions of the criminal defamation law as a ‘constitutional validity’, observing that the right to free speech cannot be undermine right to live with dignity and reputation.

The decision is taken by the honourable Apex Court’s bench comprising of justice- Dipak Misra and Justice- P. C. Pant. While so, the bench also observed that there were sufficient safeguards in the law to wars off abuse of Section 499 and Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which is providing the punishment for the defamation.

Moreover, when the bench was considering the validity of criminal defamation law, it also guided the Magistrates to be extra careful in issuing summons in such cases and prosecution for defamation cannot be a routine exercise.

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While so, it is notable that the concerned bench was hearing a batch of petitions which was filed by the Vice- President to the Congress Party, namely, Rahul Gandhi along with the Bhartiya Janata Party Leader- Subramanian Swamy and also Chief Minister to Delhi and Chief to the Aam Aadmi Party- Aravind Kejriwal. And in the petition, the petitioners brought their challenge to the validity of the Criminal Defamation law contemplated under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Notably, when the issue was brought before the Apex Court, the prosecution which was ongoing against the said leaders, was stayed by the court. Moreover, now as the decision of the court, as has been stated that the cases against such leaders will now be revived and they could move to the concerned High Court for quashing of the summons.

In the petition, the said leaders- petitioners found claiming that the law on criminal defamation impinged upon their fundamental rights, especially, right to freedom of speech and expression which is enshrined under the provisions of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. moreover, the petitioners had also pointed that there is a Chilling effect of the penal provisions on their fundamental right.

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Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan

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