Political bigwigs like Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Subramaniam Swamy have all been embroiled defamation controversies

As SC upholds defamation clause a recap of some high profile defamation casesWikimedia Commons
news Criminal Defamation Friday, May 13, 2016 - 18:17

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict today, staying the removal of Sections 499 and 500 on defamation. The petitioners, which included Arvind Kejriwal, Rajdeep Sardesai, Rahul Gandhi and other prominent persons, were quite disappointed with the court’s decision.

The apex court said that there was a need to maintain balance between reputation and freedom of speech.

As reactions continue to pour around the controversial judgment, here is a lowdown of some relevant cases of criminal defamation in the past few years.

1. In 2015, Arun Jaitley slapped a defamation suit against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five members of his party, demanded Rs 10 crore in damages.

Kejriwal and members of the Aam Aadmi Party had claimed that Jaitley and his family had made financial gains by being associated with the DDCA from 2009 to 2013.

However, the Finance Minister denied these charges and said that Kejriwal’s remarks were “insulting”, “jeeringly taunting” and “provocative”. The DDCA also rubbished these allegations, backing the Finance Minister.

The next hearing, for scrutiny of documents and further arguments, will be held on May 19 2016.

2. A criminal defamation case was filed against Congress leader Ajay Singh in 2013 by Madhya Pradesh CM Shriraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal.

Chouhan sued Singh for damaging the his and his wife's reputation by making accusations of corruption against the couple and comparing Chouhan's wife Sadhna to a “money counting machine” during a rally in Khargone.

He also demanded Rs 1 crore in damages and promised that the money would be used to rehabilitate families affected by recent tragedy in Uttarakhand.

3. On June 26, 2015, the Young Mizo Association slapped a case of criminal defamation against Sawibunga, president of the president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF).

Bru is a displaced tribe community from Tripura. Sawibunga was quoted by a national daily in January alleging that Mizo youths had beaten up people of the his community and burned down their houses.

However, Mamit police officials did not find evidence of the purported burnings and the local court in Aizawl issued an arrest warrant against Sawibunga for failing to appear for the hearings. The warrant was struck down later when Sawibunga promised to attend them.

4. Rajesh Kunte of the RSS sued Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for criminal defamation in Maharashtra in 2015 for accusing the organization for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.

While the magistrate’s court began criminal proceedings against Gandhi, the latter moved to the High Court looking to quash the complaint on grounds that it was “motivated” and “malafide”. However, the High Court dismissed his plea refused to grant stay on the order.

The case is ongoing in the Supreme Court and the next hearing is scheduled for July 9.

5. In 2014, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha sued Subramanian Swamy over three tweets the latter posted. Later in January 2015, a total of six cases were filed against Swamy on a variety of grounds.

The case was filed in a city court in Chennai. In Septemeber however, the Supreme Court stayed the criminal proceedings against Swamy. 

 

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