Monday, 30th October 2017

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Defamation

The Editors Guild of India has urged the Supreme Court to review its 2016 judgment upholding the criminal defamation law as it was allegedly being misused to intimidate the media, reports our special correspondent.

  • Published 27.10.17
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New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has urged the Supreme Court to review its 2016 judgment upholding the criminal defamation law as it was allegedly being misused to intimidate the media, reports our special correspondent.

The guild also urged the Centre and the state governments to amend the law suitably to decriminalise defamation.

The latest instance of the criminal defamation law being invoked was BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay filing a suit against the news portal The Wire for a report that claimed the turnover of Jay's company had grown 16,000 times after the party came to power in 2014.

In a statement on Thursday, the guild "respectfully" disagreed with the Supreme Court's judgment and maintained that defamation should be treated as a civil offence.

"The guild is concerned that this provision in the Indian Penal Code is being employed by many litigants to intimidate journalists writing on matters of public interest and as a coercive tool to dissuade and even threaten the media from carrying out its legitimate responsibilities," the statement said.

In May 2016, the Supreme Court had upheld the criminal defamation law in a ruling on petitions filed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and others challenging the constitutional validity of IPC Sections 499 and 500.

The Centre's response was in favour of retaining the provision on the ground that defamation cases in India took years to be settled, putting reputations at stake for the entire duration.