Criminal Defamation Case: Supreme Court upholds validity of Defamation Law


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday has given the verdict on the appeal against Criminal Defamation Laws. Supreme Court refuses to abolish Criminal Defamation as an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC make defamation a criminal offence.

A person's right to freedom of speech has to be balanced with the other person's right to reputation and therefore the two Sections are necessary, the court said and added that it was "difficult to say that criminal defamation has a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression".  

The petitions against the current law were filed by politicians, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy.

Swamy and Gandhi have been charged with criminal defamation under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC for their political speeches made in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra respectively, while Kejriwal is facing cases under the same provisions lodged by BJP's Nitin Gadkari and others.