CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday quashed a bunch of 28 defamation cases registered against various media organisations by the Tamil Nadu government. The court observed that the criminal defamation law is meant for a laudable object and cannot be misused by using the state as a tool to settle scores.
The court was hearing a set of petitions by various press and media organisations filed in 2012 and 2013. They had challenged the criminal defamation cases filed against them by the state government for various news items published over a period of time.
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Justice Abdul Quddhose in his 156-page judgement cited several international laws, Supreme Court and high court judgments. He observed, "In the cases on hand when there is no allegation that the state has been defamed, there is no question of prosecution under section 199(2) Cr.P.C."
The court's order said the cases reflect "total non-application of mind" by the public prosecutors and also by the sessions court judges who had taken cognizance of them. The sessions courts have also not applied their minds independently as a reading of the sanction orders does not satisfy the basic condition of "defamation of the state". Given this, the high court said it is empowered to interfere at this stage and quash all the cases.