The Supreme Court on Thursday criticised the Jayalalithaa government for trying to use defamation law as a weapon against critics. The court told the Tamil Nadu government that defamation prosecution cannot be slapped for just calling a government corrupt or unfit.
“Defamation law can’t be used as a political counter weapon. Filing of cases for just criticising the government or bureaucrats creates a chilling effect,” the top court ordered.
The observation came when DMDK chief Vijayakanth challenged the arrest warrant issued against him by a Tirupur court in a defamation case. The Supreme Court stayed the warrant.
The apex court asked the Tamil Nadu government on the number of defamation cases it has filed in the state.
Of late, the Tamil Nadu government has filed numerous defamation cases against political leaders and media houses for criticising the government. This has led to the charge that the government is trying to muzzle criticism.
The Supreme Court in May had dismissed petitions by different political leaders seeking it to quash the defamation law, saying it as an infringement on the right to free speech. In that order, the Supreme Court had held that the right to free speech was not absolute right.