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CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS AND CITIZENS' RIGHTSAn Omnibus Comprising Constitutional Questions in India and Citizens' Rights, Judges and State Accountability$
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A. G. Noorani

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195678291

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195678291.001.0001

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Libel as Crime: A Void Law 1

Libel as Crime: A Void Law 1

(p.331) 45 Libel as Crime: A Void Law1

A.G. Noorani

Oxford University Press

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

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