The Madras High Court on Monday quashed criminal proceedings in a case against TTV Dhinakaran, Member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and General Secretary of the Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam (AMMK), for an alleged defamatory statement made against Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam in 2018. The court, however, warned that political leaders should refrain from making serious allegations or criticism against constitutional functionaries, reported Live Law.
Dhinakaran was charged on the alleged offence under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)â€”Defamation on Social Mediaâ€”and the court order on Monday came after he filed a quashing petition. Justice N Sathish Kumar, hearing the plea, said that leaders of political parties should show "their statesmanship and quality and healthy politics rather than accusing others by using vituperated language in political platform."
It was in February 2018 that the alleged defamatory statement by Dhinakaran was telecast in Tamil television channels and in newspapers. A complaint was filed against him under Section 199(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) -- Prosecution for Defamation by the state government on behalf of Edappadi K Palaniswami. The alleged offence fell under Section 499 and was punishable under Section 500 of the IPC.
The complaint was pending at a special court for trial of criminal cases of elected MPs and MLAs of Tamil Nadu, when Dinakaran filed his plea to quash it. Dhinakaranâ€™s counsel stated that the alleged statement (referring to the CM and the Deputy CM) in no way amounted to defamation. The statement pertained to a statue erected of former Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa, the counsel said.
The court observed that the statement made by Dhinakaran was against the two ministers in general, and not about the discharge of their official duties. If it is not related to their official duties, the "complaint cannot be made by a public prosecutor on the basis of government order," said the court.