Supreme Court stays Delhi govt circular on defamation
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a 6 May circular from the Delhi government which sought to pursue criminal action against media houses that published defamatory content against the government or chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant asked Kejriwal to respond in an application filed by lawyer Amit Sibal. Sibal filed a criminal defamation case against Kejriwal for certain comments in relation to misusing his father Kapil Sibal’s position as a former Union minister, which the apex court stayed earlier this month.
Interestingly, Kejriwal had approached the apex court earlier, challenging the criminal defamation provisions and had proceedings against him stayed in several defamation cases.
“Don’t you feel that there is dichotomy between you challenging section 499 and section 500 of the Indian Penal Code relating to defamation and the circular issued by you?” the court asked Kejriwal.
The Delhi government declined comment.
The circular issued by the Delhi’s directorate of information and publicity asked government officials to report the matter to the principal secretary.
Opposition parties welcomed the stay. “It was against the basic principle of freedom of expression. The circular was totally unconstitutional and we welcome the Supreme Court order,” Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said.
“We welcome the Supreme Court order. In a democracy, you cannot gag the media. The anti-media circular was aimed at curbing voices of dissent,” said Delhi BJP leader Vijender Gupta.