New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday held that IPC Sections 499 and 500 relating to criminal defamation are constitutionally valid and rejected the charge that the law had a chilling effect on the right to freedom of speech and expression in a democracy.
The court in its 268-page judgement held that the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions and cannot be misused to tarnish or sully the reputation of another individual.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant said reputation is an inextricable aspect of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution and the State in order to sustain and protect the said reputation of an individual, has kept the provision under Section 499 IPC alive as a part of law. In the name of freedom of speech and expression, the right of another cannot be jeopardised.
The bench disposed of petitions filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, actor Vijaykanth, and several others who drew the court’s attention as to how the IPC Sections 499 and 500 are being misused to target political opponents.
It was contended that even dissent and fair criticism of the government or the individual is construed as defamation resulting in throttling of democracy....