Chapter

Libel as Crime: A Void Law<sup>1</sup>

A.G. Noorani

in CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS AND CITIZENS' RIGHTS

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195678291
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080588 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195678291.003.0111
Libel as Crime: A Void Law1

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The first elected government and the Parliament of India introduced a law that provided ministers and civil servants a summary remedy for criminal libel. The Press Commission had approved the law only in a highly qualified form that was brushed aside. The Supreme Court should be applauded for testing the law of libel based on the fundamental right to freedom of expression and speech guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The Criminal Procedure Code 1973 treated 'public servants' (including ministers) on par with ordinary citizens when it comes to defamation as a crime. Defamation is also a criminal offence according to Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. In relation to public officials, both Section 499 of the Penal Code and Section 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code are null and void because they clearly violate Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.

Keywords: India; libel; defamation; ministers; civil servants; freedom of expression; Constitution; Criminal Procedure Code 1973; Indian Penal Code

Chapter.  4018 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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