The Supreme Court Thursday stayed proceedings in the five criminal defamation cases against BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed by AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and also agreed to look into his demand to scrap the provisions for criminal defamation.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and UU Lalit issued notices to the Centre and the former Tamil Nadu chief minister on Swamy’s petition — in which he wants all the five cases to be transferred to the SC for a final decision.
Swamy submitted that the provisions for criminal defamation contained under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), travel beyond the restriction clause enshrined under Freedom of Speech and Expression granted under the Constitution.
He has challenged the provision of criminal defamation saying the Executive does not permit expression of public opinion by instituting cases of defamation through the public prosecutors by spending from the State exchequer, which is inconceivable.
The court observed that “public opinion, public perception and public criticism” were “fundamental pillars to guide and control the executive action and, if they are scuttled or fettered, it would affect the growth of a healthy and matured democracy.
Five defamation cases were filed against Swamy by Tamil Nadu government after the BJP leader had allegedly made some defamatory allegations against Jayalalithaa on social networking site.