In a relief for DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, the Madras High Court on Tuesday, November 9, has quashed a defamation case filed against her for allegedly levelling corruption allegations against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami of the AIADMK. In the case relating to a 2018 DMK-led protest in Villupuram over the issue of garbage disposal, Kanimozhi had targeted then CM E Palaniswami by levelling allegations of corruption against him in her speech.
The defamation case was filed in the Principal District & Sessions Court, Villupuram and was challenged by Kanimozhi in 2019, through a petition in the High Court. Kanimozhi, represented by her counsel, contended that her statements were taken out of context. In her representation to the court, it was submitted that the speech was intended to highlight the allegedly bogus promises made by the AIADMK government and the widespread corruption in governance.
Kanimozhi also challenged the maintainability of the complaint filed by the public prosecutor. She said that the former CM was misusing the Public Prosecutor’s office for using it to file a criminal complaint against a political rival. She pointed out in her plea that no public servant, including the Chief Minister, was immune from scrutiny and criticism.
In May 2019, the Madras HC had granted an interim stay on all proceedings resulting from the criminal defamation charges, since the court was satisfied that Kanimozhi had a prima facie case. While granting the stay, the court had observed that a reading of the allegations in the complaint against the petitioner, for an offence under Section 499 of Indian Penal Code, indicate that the criticism was made in the individual capacity of the former CM. The court further observed that none of the allegations pertain to the conduct of the Chief Minister in discharge of his public function.