CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has stayed all further proceedings on the 14 defamation complaints filed by the State government against DMDK leader A Vijaykant (62) and his wife Premalatha.
Justice PN Prakash granted the stay while admitting a criminal original petition from Vijaykant on Wednesday.
The judge also dispensed with their appearance before the Principal Sessions Judge in Chennai and other lower courts in the districts.
According to petitioner, every citizen has got right to raise his voice against the maladministration of the government. Both the mandate of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, as well as public interest, require that people freely discuss public matters and the official conduct of public officers. These considerations must be paramount and they require that the accused must be armed with more than the defence of truth, if he is not to be made timid by the fear of being prosecuted for defamation from discussing public matters and the conduct of public officers, petitioner submitted.
In the absence of criminal intention, a mere speaking or sharing or exposing truth in public by a citizen or by an opponent political leader against another citizen or government official or a mere thought or expression of opinion by way of writing or publishing, does not constitute any offence against the right of reputation, he added.