2 Dec 2022 3:43 PM GMT
The Madras High Court on Friday temporarily restrained NGO Arappor Iyakkam from making any derogatory statements against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy.While granting the interim injunction in favour of Palaniswamy, the bench of Justice Krishnan Ramaswamy observed that the right to free speech guaranteed under the Indian Constitution does not give a right to...
The Madras High Court on Friday temporarily restrained NGO Arappor Iyakkam from making any derogatory statements against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy.
While granting the interim injunction in favour of Palaniswamy, the bench of Justice Krishnan Ramaswamy observed that the right to free speech guaranteed under the Indian Constitution does not give a right to defame others.
Right to free speech does not give a right to an individual to defame others. The citizens have a correlative duty of not interfering with the liberty of other individuals since everybody has a right to reputation and right to live with dignity. It is well settled that in a democratic set up, no one has right to disparage the reputation of another.
Palaniswamy approached the court after the NGO gave press statements about the complaint filed by it before the DVAC alleging that the former minister was involved in corrupt practices in the matter of awarding tenders in the state Highways worth 692 crores in favour of his relative and selected tenderers between 2019 and 2021.
Palaniswamy prayed for directions to restrain the NGO, its convenor, and joint convenor from making any statements against him and also sought damages to the tune of Rs 1.10 crore.
The court said any baseless publication would have considerable impact throughout the career of a politician,
"Making criticisms towards the concerned Minister regarding the policy and failure of its implementation through the Press is permissible, but making a criminal complaint against the Minister with false and baseless allegations while as per Business Rules, there is no role to play by the Minister for implementation of the policy or deficiencies in tender process, etc., and uploading the same in social media, in the opinion of this Court, would prima facie tarnish the personal and professional reputation of the applicant in the society," it added.
Palaniswamy claimed that there is not an iota or semblance of truth in the accusations or publications made by the NGO and its intention was only to disparage the good name, fame, and reputation of the Minister. The accusations are false and frivolous and aimed at spoiling the credibility of Palaniswamy and cause stigma to him, the court was told
Being prima facie satisfied that the statements are defamatory in nature, the court observed that the complaint lodged by the NGO before the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) was not yet registered due to insufficient materials. Merely lodging complaint and making defamatory statements in social media, thus, could be construed as a deliberate act on the part of the NGO.
"This Court, prima facie is satisfied that the statements made by the respondents are defamatory in nature and uploading the same in social media are deliberate and intentional act to defame the dignity and reputation of the applicant in order to demoralize him in the society."
Thus, finding the balance of convenience in favour of the applicant, the court allowed the interim injunction and restrained the NGO from making further such derogatory statements.
"In the result, the Original Application is allowed and interim injunction is granted, restraining the respondents and their men, from in any manner releasing, circulating, publishing or indulging in making any kind of accusations/insinuations/allegations/ circulation/ uploading of articles/letters/ correspondence and/or giving press interviews and/or post any items, messages on social media."
Case Title: Edappadi K Palanisamy v Arappor Iyakkam and others
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 491
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