The Supreme Court told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that as a public leader, she must learn to face criticism. The sharp rebuke came while the court was hearing a petition filed by DMDK chief Vijayakanth seeking dismissal of a defamation case filed against him by the state government.
“No other state misuses the state machinery like the Tamil Nadu government. Defamation cases can’t be slapped for merely reporting on CM’s health condition,” the court was quoted saying.
Late last month, the court had observed that defamation cases cannot be used as a political counter-weapon against critics of the government. It had further stayed the non-bailable warrants that were issued against Vijayakanth and his wife Premlata. The case against the couple was lodged by the Public Prosecutor of Tirupur district on the allegation that they made false remarks against the Chief Minister and criticised the working of the state government. Reportedly, 14 cases of defamation have been slapped against Vijayakanth.
The Supreme Court bench today made it clear that defamation cases cannot be used to throttle democracy. The court will next hear a plea alleging abuse of public office on September 22.
Within her party, the AIADMK and the government, Jayalalithaa is known as an authoritarian leader with an iron claw-like hold on the machinery. In May this year, her party was voted back to power in Tamil Nadu with a simple majority.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)