24 June 2019


Supreme Court

Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India & Ors.



Criminal defamation provisions to stay

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 199 CrPC, provisions that deal with matters of defamation.

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the upper echelon of political parties BJP, AAP and Congress had sought striking down of the provisions for being unreasonable, stultifying constitutional freedom of expression and ultimately bringing-in arbitrariness.

The court reiterated that the law of the land should not be abused to settle vendetta or personal vengeance. However, rather than repeal the law, it called for greater scrutiny at the time of taking cognisance of such matters.

Criminal proceedings for defamation are misused frequently, and on an industrial scale, for the relatively lower barriers of entry into the criminal justice system. Used in political contexts, the laws have received much public attention in recent times for their use to intimidate and as political bargaining tools.


Pepsi Foods Ltd. and another v. Special Judicial Magistrate and others MANU/SC/1090/1998
N. Ravi and Ors. vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. MANU/SC/1314/2004
In Re: The Special Courts Bill, 1978 MANU/SC/0039/1978
Section 499 IPC Act

Tags : criminal defamation constitutional validity misuse

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