CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil daily 'Dinamalar' to refrain from publishing news articles in a disrespectful manner.
The court censured the daily for addressing former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as 'J' in an article.
The court passed the order on July 12 while hearing the plea filed by the editor (since deceased) and publisher of the Tamil newspaper seeking the quashing of proceedings initiated by them for an offence punishable under Section 500, 501 of IPC.
The single-member bench of Justice V Bhavani Subbaroyan observed, "She should have been addressed as Hon'ble Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and not as 'J'. While printing and publishing matters with regard to leaders of the country or state, the petitioners are supposed to give respect and address them accordingly."
During the hearing, the state argued that the defamatory allegations were with respect to the act or conduct of the then Chief Minister in the discharge of her public functions.
The petitioners also argued that Section 199(2) of the Cr.P.C. provides a special procedure with regard to the initiation of proceedings for prosecution for defamation of a public servant.
However, the petitioners argued that this does not constitute defamatory allegations with respect to the act or conduct of the then Chief Minister in the discharge of her public functions and at best can
only be treated as personal defamation.
"If the defamatory statement is personal in nature, this special procedure will not apply and it is only the concerned person who has to file the complaint in his or her individual capacity," stressed the court.
The court said that allegations on which the criminal complaint was filed do not in any way touch upon the conduct of the aggrieved person in discharge of her public function.