On Sunday, Markandey Katju published a post on Facebook, saying this:
This in turn, pulled the attention of Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, who found Mr. Katju’s statements a grave insult towards the state.
And such was his slight, that Kumar and leaders from his party as well as some from the opposition have demanded that Katju be tried for sedition.
Now, to a certain extent, I can see why Nitish Kumar would be upset, since Katju is insinuating that Bihar is a nuisance.
However, filing a case against him for sedition and defamation, is according to me, going a bit too far.
What Is Criminal Defamation?
For the unknown, let me describe to you what exactly does one mean when they say criminal defamation.
India has laws for both civil defamation, in where one has to pay a compensation if they say something defaming about another individual. And the other is that of criminal defamation, where one could even be sent to jail for such an offence.
On an overall level, I think that defamation laws provide a certain regularity, and can be of positive use as they can protect a person or organisations reputation from untoward mud-slinging.
But, the laws surrounding defamation in this country, are so flawed and filled with loopholes that, if one wanted, then one could use them to their advantage.
Arindam Chaudhury: Perhaps The Best Example Of Using Defamation Laws Wrongly To His Advantage
Arindam Chaudhury and IIPM are no strangers to being called out on their wrong or ill practices.
And in return of such articles written against them and their malpractices, their fool proof move has always been to file a defamation case against the party that has put out any kind of incriminating information against either Chaudhury or IIPM.
This is the wrong use of defamation laws, as they are trying to put a stop to any negative press about them, no matter how true it might be.
Which in turn is putting the public and potential consumers at risk of using a flawed and wrong practice. And in this case future of many youngsters was at risk.
Need For Free Speech (#SpeechBill)
This brings me to my third point of this blog and the rising need for free speech.
Again, not discounting that defamation rules do help in some areas, but the loose policies and flaws within it, make it extremely susceptible to being used for the wrong reasons.
According to me, living in a democracy, one should not be scared of being sued over even the smallest thing, in case it offends anyone.
The right to free speech and expression, allows us to speak and express ourselves freely, and if that includes calling out an authority, person or organisation of their wrong doings, then I don’t suppose there is any harm in it.
The Speech Bill
The last thing I would like to address is the Speech Bill that, had recently caught out eye owing to its main goal of decriminalising defamation, making the civil defamation laws stronger and striking a balance between the freedom of speech with right to reputation.
Their aim is to somehow make sure that the citizens are free to put out their opinions, without fear of either having to pay a hefty fine or being thrown in jail. But while still maintaining the importance of right to reputation and that free speech does not mean to bring harm to another’s reputation.
ED is very proud to pledge its support to this Speech Bill and all that it is working towards.
We urge all of you too, to go ahead and pledge your support to a cause this country needs urgently. #SpeechBill
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.