Cutting across party lines, political leaders are presenting a united front to the Supreme Court on the issue of decriminalising defamation law.
Following the footsteps of BJP leader Suramanian Swamy and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has also moved the top court to strike down the penal provisions on defamation on grounds that it has a “chilling effect” on freedom of speech and expression. A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra has already issued notice to the Centre on Swamy and Kejriwal’s petition. Proceedings in the trial court against them too have been put on hold.
Gandhi is himself facing criminal defamation proceedings in Bhiwandi for allegedly making “insulting and derogatory” remarks against the RSS while addressing a public rally in March 2014 in a run up to the Lok Sabha elections.
In his appeal before the SC, Gandhi wanted the case to be quashed.
The Bombay high court had on March 10 dismissed his request.