New Delhi, May 13: The Supreme Court has upheld constitutional validity of penal laws on defamation. The two-judge bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C Pant said the right to life under Article 21 includes the right to reputation.
The apex court was hearing the matter based on 24 petitions that allege that the provisions of criminal sanction act as a censoring device, thus violating the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. The petitions have been filed by a number of politicians and public figures like Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi and Dr. Subramaniyan Swamy.
The petitions have been opposed by the central and some state governments with the argument that acceding to them would lead to anarchy in society, since people could malign others’ reputations with impunity.
The court directed magistrates across the country to observe extreme caution while issuing summons in private defamation complaints. The Supreme Court said interim protection will continue and criminal proceedings will remain stayed before trial court.