Don't misuse state machinery to curb criticism, SC tells TN

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that criticism of public policy could not be a ground for slapping defamation suit as it issued fresh notice to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on a plea alleging abuse of power by her.

Issuing notice on the plea of DMDK leader Vijaykant, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice C. Nagappan, said that public figures must be open to criticism and slapping of defamation cases against people for criticising government policies is not the way a healthy democracy functions. 

Saying that the defamation can't be slapped all the time, the bench said: "Public figures must face criticism. This is not the way a healthy democracy functions," and added: "Don't misuse the State machinery". 

Vijaykant had filed a petition challenging the filing of several defamation cases against him by the State for criticising Jayalalithaa and her policies.

In the meantime, the court was informed that so far the Jayalalithaa government has filed 131 defamation cases against the people for criticising the government and its policies.

The court had in the course of the last hearing sought a list of the number of defamation cases filed by the Jayalalithaa government against its critics.