In a relief to BJP Leader Subramanian Swamy, the Supreme Court on Monday stayed criminal proceedings in three defamation cases filed against him. The complaints were lodged for allegedly making critical comments against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Twitter.
The Bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice P.C. Pant observed, “Having heard Mr. Subramanian Swamy in-person and Mr. Nageshwar Rao, learned senior counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu, it is directed that the proceedings in criminal case nos.45/2014, 46/2014 and 27/2015 pending in the court of the Principal Sessions Judge, Chennai, shall remain stayed.”
Swamy’s petition elaborated on the six criminal defamation cases pending against him in the court of the Principal District and Session Judge at Chennai and said, “That all the above-mentioned complaints and summons issued therein are bad in law and are liable to be quashed by this Hon’ble Court.”
In October last year, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Deepak Misra had stayed the proceedings against him. Appearing in person, Subramaniam Swamy submitted to the Court that S. 499 and Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1960 are unreasonable restrictions on the right to freedom of speech and expression, which is enshrined in the Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution. Mr. Swamy in his petition has also challenged the vires of Section 199 (2) of Cr.P.C. You may read the LiveLaw story here.
Defamation laws have been under the scanner of the Apex Court, after it issued notices to the 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.
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. You may read the LiveLaw story here.
Read the order here.