'This is not done, you can't use defamation case to throttle democracy', SC admonishes Jayalalithaa - NEWS SENTRY

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

'This is not done, you can't use defamation case to throttle democracy', SC admonishes Jayalalithaa


NEW DELHI: In a body blow to authoritarianism, the Supreme Court today severely chastised Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa for using criminal defamation proceedings to silence criticism of her government's functioning.

"(You) can't use defamation case(s) to throttle democracy. This is not done," the top court told the Tamil Nadu CM. The court had in July, too, rebuked the AIADMK supremo on the same issue.

Today the Supreme Court added that the Tamil Nadu government should concentrate on good governance instead of filing defamation cases against those who criticize it.

The court made these observations while hearing a petition filed by DMDK chief A Vijaykanth seeking the quashing of a defamation case filed against him by the Tamil Nadu government.

The top court further said that "a government cannot be seen to use state machinery to file criminal defamation cases against political opponents."

In July, the Court's bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman, while hearing the same matter as today's, said defamation cases should not be used as a political counter weapon against critics of governments.

"There has to be tolerance to criticism...defamation cases cannot be used as a political counter weapon. Cases for criticizing the government or bureaucrats create a chilling effect," the highest court of the country said.

At the time it stayed non-bailable warrants issued against Vijayakanth and his wife Premlata in relation to the same case it heard today.

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