The top court said that criticism of public policy could not be a ground for slapping defamation suit as it issued fresh notice to Jayalalithaa on a plea alleging abuse of power by her.

The court was hearing a petition filed by DMDK chief Vijayakanth requesting that an arrest warrant against him be cancelled. Vijayakanth is facing several defamation cases against him for criticising Jayalalithaa and her policies. He was also named in a police complaint after he commented that Jayalalithaa is heading a corrupt government.

Issuing notice on the plea of Vijayakanth, 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".

In July also, the top court wanted the Tamil Nadu chief minister to respond to a question whether the government can start defamation proceedings against its political rivals.
In the meantime, the court was informed that so far the Jayalalithaa government has filed 131 defamation cases against people for criticising it and its policies.

Other Defamation Cases Filed By Jayalalithaa

Jayalalithaa has also filed criminal defamation charges against DMK leader and former chief minister M Karunanidhi for criticising her. In May this year, the AIADMK chief had filed a criminal defamation case against the then Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president EVKS Elangovan for making a "malicious statement" against her on a television programme broadcast by a private channel.

(With agency inputs)

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