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DELHI HC- No restraint on free communication during the election process

2020-02-05

The Delhi HC has stated that there is no such legislation envisaged under the law to put any restraint on free communication during the process of elections, after refusing an interim relief to a contestant seeking the ex-parte removal of allegedly defamatory content against him.

The order was passed by Justice Raji Sahai Endlaw in a plea by a contestant for the Delhi Legislative Assembly Election, 2020, SC Vats (Plaintiff), where the plaintiff has instituted this suit against many unknown parties to restraint them from publishing any defamatory content against him. Vats was allegedly registered in a rape case in the year 2015.Subsequently, he was discharged off the offence of rape. However, the case was remitted for the trial of other offences, for which, Vats has not been charged as yet and the case in pending.

The plaintiff contended that once he has been discharged of the charge of rape, the content was ex facie defamatory and his chances in the ensuing election were hampered.

The Court noted that although the Plaintiff had been discharged of the offence under Section 376, he was still an accused with respect to other offences under IPC, to which the court opined that it could not pass any order directing the dissection of the allegedly defamatory material.

“It is up to the plaintiff to inform its electorate that he has been discharged of the offence under Section 376 IPC.”                                   

-          Delhi HC

Further, the court observed that in view of the complaint made by the plaintiff, no case was made out for grant of ex-parte order and said that even though discharged of the offence, the plaintiff only has the right to issue a clarification to the electorate and cannot seek to obliterate the said information.

“It has been held that during election and campaigning for elections, a lot of claims and speeches are made and at least the candidates contesting the election cannot be bound by the promises made by them to the electorate and on the same parity, I feel that any restraint on free communication during the process of election is not envisaged under the law relating to elections.”

-          Delhi HC

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