SC stays defamation trial of Kejriwal, seeks Centre’s response

The apex court stayed the prosecution of Arvind Kejriwal in two defamation complaints.

In a relief for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed two criminal defamation trial proceedings against him and ordered the Centre to respond to his plea challenging the criminalisation of defamation.

A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant directed the Centre to respond to a writ petition filed by Mr. Kejriwal contending that criminal defamation laws under Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code violate the fundamental right of free speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

“A criminal complaint, even without a possible imprisonment sentence, would have a chilling effect, stifling the exercise of citizens’ rights to free speech,” the Chief Minister contended in the Supreme Court.

The Bench gave the Centre six weeks to come back with a reply.

One of the complaints was filed by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. The second was lodged by Sheila Dikshit's ex-political secretary Pawan Khera in 2013 for alleged remarks against the former Chief Minister during protests over power tariff hike in 2012.

During the brief hearing, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan informed the court that an identical challenge against criminalisation of defamation has been filed by BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the government has been asked to reply on that too. The court then tagged Mr. Kejriwal's petition with that of Dr. Swamy’s.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 8:21:37 AM |

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