Supreme Court stays Delhi government's defamation circular against media

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has stayed operation of a circular dated 6 May by the Delhi government, which would have initiated defamation proceedings against media for publishing or broadcasting news that damage the reputation of the chief minister, the council of ministers and the government.


The bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant issued a notice Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. “As an interim measure we direct stay of the circular dated May 6, 2015 till further order of this court,” the notice said.


Asking Kejriwal to explain why the directorate of information has issued "such circular," the court sought a reply within six weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on 8 July.


The court's order came on an application filed by senior advocate Amit Sibal seeking vacation of the stay granted by the apex court on the proceedings before a trial court in a defamation case.


Sibal, who had filed a criminal defamation complaint against Kejriwal and others in the Patiala House court, said that while the chief minister on one hand seeks setting aside of penal laws on defamation, on the other hand he has issued such a circular.


"It is noteworthy that the petitioner (Kejriwal) in his affidavit declares that he is working as chief minister of Delhi. However, the aforesaid circular directly contradicts and mitigates against the stand taken by him in the present petition," the plea said, adding that the stay on the trial court proceedings against Kejriwal be vacated.


The circular, issued by state information and publicity department, said that if any officer associated with the Delhi government feels that a published or aired item has caused damage to his or the government's reputation, he should file a complaint with the principal secretary.

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