Apex court to look into defamation laws

Apex court to look into defamation laws

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought to examine if defamation laws went beyond the reasonable restrictions on the citizen’s right to free speech on account of cases slapped against persons who criticise certain executive decisions in public.  

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said the court would determine questions over criminal proceedings on a person for public criticism of executive action and its effect on the growth of a healthy democracy.

It framed issues on a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who challenged the legality of Sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 199 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

In his argument, Swamy contended that the court needed to decide the validity of the provisions concerning defamation as he faced criminal prosecution in as many as six cases due to complaints instigated by former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha at a Chennai court. The court stayed proceedings initiated against him and also sought response from Jayalalitha within six weeks.

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