SC suspends defamation proceedings against Delhi CM

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today suspended criminal defamation proceedings against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal initiated by Union minister Nitin Gadkari and advocate Surender Sharma for making alleged defamatory remarks.

The apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra while suspending the proceedings issued notice to the central government on Kejriwal’s petition that there should be no criminal action in defamation proceedings.

Having issued the notice to the central government, the court tagged Kejriwal’s petition to an earlier plea by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy, who challenged the provision of law that permits initiation of criminal proceedings in a defamation case.

Union Road Transport Minister Gadkari in February 2014 slapped a defamation case against Kejriwal after he called him as among the “most corrupt politicians of India”.

Advocate Sharma’s incident relates to filing of his nomination papers for 2013 Delhi assembly elections which he said he did after being approached by AAP leaders in appreciation of social work being done by him.

Sharma has said AAP leaders had used “defamatory, unlawful and derogatory” words about him which appeared in leading newspapers and had hurt his reputation in the legal fraternity and the society.

On Swamy’s plea, the apex court is examining whether Section 499 relating to defamation and Section 500 providing for punishment for defamation of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) travelled beyond the Article 19(2) of the constitution that imposes reasonable restriction on the freedom of speech and expression.

The apex court is hearing Swamy’s plea wherein he has sought the declaration that Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC and Section 199(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure as unconstitutional.

Swamy had contended that Section 499 and Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code relating to defamation imposed unreasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the constitution.

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