New Delhi, Aug. 24 : Taking on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa over the defamation case filed against her government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said she must face criticism being a public figure, adding defamation cannot be slapped all the time.
The apex court re-issued a notice to Jayalalithaa on a petition alleging misuse of defamation law. "Defamation can't be slapped all the time. This is not the way healthy democracy functions. State controls and sanctions the public proceedings for defamation. You (Jayalalithaa) must exercise restraint while starting any prosecution," the court observed. "Criticism for public policy cannot be ground for defamation. Defamation cases can't be slapped for merely reporting on the Chief Minister's health condition," the court added.
The apex court further said that no other state misuses the state machinery like the Tamil Nadu Government.
The observations came on a petition filed by actor-politician DMDK leader Vijayakanth seeking quashing of defamation case filed against him by the state government.
The court will next hear a plea alleging abuse of public office on September 22. The apex court had earlier asked the state of Tamil Nadu to submit a list of defamation cases initiated against people for criticising Jayalalithaa or her government.
Vijayakanth, who is known as "captain" and heads the DMDK, was named in a police complaint after he commented that Jayalalithaa is heading a corrupt government.
There are 14 defamation cases against him for his comments criticizing the government..