A Two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court [Dipak Mishra and P.K.Pant.JJ] Today issued notice to Centre in a batch of PILs including the one filed by Subramanian Swamy to de-criminalize the Defamation [S.499/500 of Indian Penal code.
Swamy’s plea was based on the following main contentions;
“(a) The provisions contained in Sections 499 and 500 IPC, travel beyond the restriction clause enshrined under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India, for that really constricts the freedom of speech beyond reasonable limit.
(b)The very purpose of Article 19(2), as would be evident from the debate in the provisional Parliament, was not meant to put such restrictions and, therefore, such an enormous restriction cannot be thought of under Article 19(2) to support the constitutionality of the said provisions and further it will violate the concept of rule of law.”
The Petitioners gave emphasis on the phrase “defamation or incitement to an offence”. To buttress the stand that the word 'defamation' being there in the Article itself and that being there in Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code which defines 'defamation' and also provides enormous safeguards by way of number of exceptions, there can be violation of Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
The Bench appointed Senior Counsels K.Parasaran,and Mr. T.R.Andhyarujina,as Amicus Curie in the Case.
Mr.Andhyarujina, submitted that the case requires detailed argument and he will be assisting the court from all perspectives. Mr.Parasaran has urged that “reputation”, that is, “kirti”, is the greatest treasure of the man of this side of the grave and, therefore, no citizen has a right to defame another. It is canvassed by him that as the existing law is protected, it is to be seen whether apart from freedom of speech and expression, other Articles in Part III of the Constitution are violated.
The Court directed the Respondents to file the Counter affidavits within Four Weeks.
It was only few weeks back another Bench of the Supreme Court quashed S.66A of IT Act and 118(d) of Kerala Police Act being violative of Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India
Read the Order here.