The High Court of Madras has quashed a defamation case against Congress MLA, S. Vijayadharani for allegedly defaming former Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha in a public meeting held on September 29, 2015.
A single judge bench of Justice Dr. G. Jayachandran while quashing the defamation proceedings observed that “in democracy a fair criticism of the government functioning is the catalyst for better administration.”
The petitioner, S. Vijayadharani, a sitting member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly had expressed her anguish regarding the opening of TASMAC shops by the Government in the public meeting held at Karungal Santhai Ground at Nagercoil, held on 27.09.2015.
Aggrieved by the speech, the Public Prosecutor of the Kanyakumari District has presented the complaint on behalf of the Chief Minister under Section 199(2) of Cr.P.C. In the said complaint, it is claimed that, the Chief Minister is held in high esteem by section of the public irrespective of race, religion, caste or community. While so, the speech of the petitioner has harmed the reputation of the Chief Minister.
The petitioner submitted that the speech made by her is no way near the definition of defamation and it was only the expression of her view about the affairs of the Government and as a member of Legislative Assembly and as political party representative, she has a right of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.
The bench referring to the Supreme Court Judgment in Subramanian Swamy Vs. Union of India, Minstry of Law and others, observed that the SC while upholding the constitutional validity of Section 499 of IPC has also held that “balancing the fundamental right is constitutional necessity. The right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) subject to the restriction vis-a-vis right to reputation, which is facet of right under Article 21 ought to be balance.”
Read the order here;
-India Legal Bureau
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