A circular calling on all government officials including the chief minister, cabinet ministers and government officials has been issued to report matters of criminal defamation by the Delhi government.
This comes days after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the media of conspiracy against the Aam Aadmi Party.
The circular which was issued on May 6, comes under Section 499 and 500 of the IPC which deals with defamation and the government officials are asked to report such matters to the Principal secretary.
Incidentally, Kejriwal had challenged the constitutional validity of IPC Sections 499 and 500 under which criminal defamation can entail a maximum two years’ imprisonment.
On May 1, the Supreme Court suspended trial court proceedings in two separate criminal defamation cases against Kejriwal. For which he had asked to de-criminalise defamation on the ground that the penal provisions would restrict freedom of speech.
Kejriwal wanted defamation to be considered only as a civil wrong and had said that it will trample the fundamental rights to speech.
Yet his government’s circular, referring to section 499, states: "If by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, any person makes or publishes any defamatory imputation against the Chief Minister/Ministers of the government of NCT of Delhi or any public servant, employed in connection with the affairs of government of NCT of Delhi, in respect of his conduct in the discharge of his public functions and if the person aggrieved believes that such imputation has harmed his/her reputation, he/she will report the matter in writing to the Principal Secretary (Home) , Government of NCT Delhi."
The BJP and Congress parties strongly objected against Kejriwal's decision and called him 'hypocrite' and 'anti-democratic'.
"When there is criticism of the government, when the wrong doings of his government is exposed by the media, the chief minister is taking objection to that. This shows the anti-democratic attitude of the chief minister," Congress leader PC Chacko said. "When there is criticism of the government, when the wrong doings of his government is exposed by the media, the chief minister is taking objection to that. This shows the anti-democratic attitude of the chief minister," Congress leader PC Chacko said.
Does the Delhi government have different set of rules for different groups and individuals?
Feature image source: Financial Express