Arappor Iyakkam, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), was on Friday restrained from making defamatory statements against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK interim general secretary K Palaniswami in a matter relating to floating of tenders for laying highways involving Rs 692 crore in the State.
Justice Krishnan Ramaswamy granted the injunction while allowing an application arising out of a civil suit from Palaniswami, popularly known as EPS.
While the application sought to restrain the Iyakkam and its convenor and joint-convenor from making any statements against EPS, the suit prayed for a direction to them to pay Rs 1.10 crore towards damages.
Justice Ramaswamy pointed out that as on date, the complaint lodged by the NGO before the state Vigilance department had not been registered as there was no sufficient material available to substantiate the allegations made therein. Mere lodging the complaint with DVAC one side and making defamatory statements in the social media, causing disrepute or defaming the applicant (EPS), could be construed as deliberate act on the part of the organisation.
Right to free speech does not give a right to an individual to defame others. The citizens have a correlative duty of not interfering with the liberty of other individuals since everybody has a right to reputation and right to live with dignity. It was well settled that in a democratic set up, no one had right to disparage the reputation of another, the judge said.
“This Court, prima facie is satisfied that the statements made by the respondents (Iyakkam and its office-bearers) are defamatory in nature and uploading the same in social media are deliberate and intentional act to defame the dignity and reputation of the applicant in order to demoralise him in the society.” the judge said.
EPS had made out a prima facie case and balance of convenience also lies in his favour since the Iyakkam had been continuing to publish/upload the accusations/insinuations in social media. Irreparable injury would be caused if interim injunction was not granted.
“In such view of the matter, this Court feels it would be appropriate to restrain the respondents from making further such derogatory statements, by way of interim injunction. Since this Court arrived at the above conclusion, there is no need to refer other citations relied upon by the parties,” the judge said.
The respondents and their men shall not in any manner release, circulate, publish or indulge in making any kind of accusations/insinuations/allegations/ circulation/ uploading of articles/letters/ correspondence and/or giving press interviews and/or post any items, messages on social media, the judge added.