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Political Leaders Should Show Their Statesmanship & Healthy Politics Rather Than Accusing Others Publicly: Madras High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
29 March 2021 8:50 AM GMT
Political Leaders Should Show Their Statesmanship & Healthy Politics Rather Than Accusing Others Publicly: Madras High Court
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Irrespective of the political affiliation, when a person raised to the level of the leader of a political party should show utmost respect to the others in public life. Of course, every citizen of a democratic country has freedom of speech, but at the same time such criticism should not exceed affecting the sentiments of others also: Madras High Court

While quashing criminal proceedings in a case against MLA & AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam) General Secretary, T.T.V. Dhinakaran for the alleged offence under Section 499 of IPC, the Madras High Court recently observed that political party leaders should restrain themselves from making serious allegations or criticism against the constitutional...

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While quashing criminal proceedings in a case against MLA & AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam) General Secretary, T.T.V. Dhinakaran for the alleged offence under Section 499 of IPC, the Madras High Court recently observed that political party leaders should restrain themselves from making serious allegations or criticism against the constitutional functionaries.

"Since leaders of political parties have huge followers and the same will have a serious impact on the followers also and the followers also blindly follow the path of their leaders", added the Court.

The Bench of Justice N. Sathish Kumar was hearing the quashing petition filed by Dhinakaran, who in 2018, allegedly gave a defamatory statement against the Hon'ble Chief Minister and Ministers of Government of Tamil Nadu.

Significantly, the Court opined,

"The leaders of political parties should show their statesmanship and quality and healthy politics rather than accusing others by using vituperated language in political platform."

Facts in brief

On 27th February 2018, Dhinakaran alleged defamatory statement was telecast in leading Television Channels, like Jaya TV and Polimer TV and the same had come in leading dailies on the subsequent day i.e., on 28th February 2018.

Hence, the respondent/complainant had given a complaint under Section 199(2) of Cr.P.C. against the petitioner for the alleged offence under Section 499 of IPC, which is punishable under Section 500 IPC.

The said complaint was pending on the file of the Special Court No.II of Trial for Criminal Cases related to elected Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, when Dhinakaran filed the Criminal Original Petition to quash the same.

It was contended by Dhinakaran's Counsel that the alleged statement (referring to CM Palanisamy and his Deputy O Panneerselvam), in no way amounted to defamation as against the Chief Minister and Ministers, Government of Tamil Nadu.

It was further submitted that the alleged statement made by the petitioner was pertaining to the erection of a statue of the former Chief Minister Selvi J. Jayalalitha, which was organised by the ADMK Political Party.

Thus, it was argued that the participation of Chief Minister or Ministers in respect of the said event could not be termed as the discharge of their public duties.

Court's observations

On a perusal of the entire complaint, the Court found that the imputation alleged to have made by Dhinakaran was only an allegation made against the Ministers in general and was in no way connected with the discharge of their official functions.

Significantly, the Court observed,

"To take cognizance of the complaint under Section 199(2) of Cr.P.C., the so-called defamation should be directly attributed to a person in the discharge of his/her public functions and only in such circumstances, Sub Section 2 of Section 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure will stand attracted."

Further, the Court opined that if the said imputation apparently made against the pubic functionaries, in the discharge of his/her public function, has no reasonable nexus with the discharge of public duties, the remedy available under Section 199 (6) of Cr.P.C. before the Magistrate by making a private complaint, and remedy under Section 199 (2) and 199 (4) would not be available.

"Otherwise, if any criticism or defamation in nature of personal capacity and such defamation have no nexus with discharge of his/her official function of the State, the complaint cannot be made by a Public Prosecutor merely on the basis of Government Order", added the Court.

The Court further noted that when the allegations in the FIR and the materials collected by the prosecution does not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused and the prosecution itself is instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance, the Court can exercise power under Section 482 Cr.P.C.

With these observations, the criminal proceedings were quashed.

However, before parting with the Case, the Court said,

"Irrespective of the political affiliation, when a person raised to the level of the leader of a political party should show utmost respect to the others in public life. Of course, every citizen of a democratic country has freedom of speech, but at the same time such criticism should not exceed affecting the sentiments of others also."

The Court also remarked that using scurrilous allegations, using harsh words, which is in the nature of serious criticism against a particular individual also to be avoided.

Case title - T. T. V. Dhinakaran v. City Public Prosecutor, High Court Campus, Chennai [Crl.O.P.No.24921 of 2019 andCrl.M.P.No.13309 of 2019]

Click Here To Download Order/Judgment 

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