Defamation Case Against Edappadi K. Palaniswami, O. Panneerselvam: SC Dismisses Challenge Against Madras HC Order

Supreme Court Law Insider

Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: September 20, 2022 at 22:39 IST

A petition contesting the Madras High Court’s decision to dismiss the defamation case against All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami and former party leader O. Panneerselvam was denied by the Supreme Court on Monday.

The petition was submitted by VA Pugazhendi, a former AIADMK spokesperson who, following his expulsion from the party, sued Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam for slander.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit, Justices Ravindra Bhat, and Ajay Rastogi heard the case.

The CJI stated right away that there was no evidence of a defamation claim in the petition.

“How is this defamation? You join a political party. They don’t like you. They throw you out. That too only an internal show cause notice was sent to you,” said CJI Lalit.

The petition was consequently denied.

The petitioner, VA Pugazhendi, was a member of the AIADMK who later attained the position of State Secretary for the Karnataka State.

In 2016, the petitioner joined the organisation headed by TTV Dinakaran following the death of the former chief minister, J. Jayalalitha, and the consequent breakup of the AIADMK party.

Later in 2020, the petitioner was allowed into the party and appointed as the Official Spokesperson by the respondents in the case, Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam, who were the Joint Co-ordinator and Coordinator of the party.

Both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam have previously held the position of chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

The petitioner was kicked out of the party in 2021.

The plaintiff claims that the letter notifying him of his dismissal contained nebulous and unsubstantiated accusations against him and instructed fellow AIADMK cadres to avoid all contact with him.

The petitioner claims that word of his expulsion spread widely throughout Tamil Nadu, including in all news outlets, publications, online media, etc.

He claimed that the responders had damaged his reputation by doing so with the purpose to commit a crime. So, in accordance with Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, he filed a private complaint against them for the offence of defamation.

The expulsion notification given to the petitioner was a normal one, according to the respondents, and was required to maintain party discipline.

The respondents added that it was important to inform both the party cadres and the broader public of the decision to expel the petitioner from the party because he was publicly speaking on behalf of the party as an official spokesperson.

The Madras High Court had noted in its ruling that the petitioner’s main complaint was about the way he had been ejected, and that this could not be resolved through a defamation lawsuit.

It had additionally argued that the expulsion letter did not imply that other party cadres were not permitted to contact the petitioner.

The Madras High Court had invalidated the defamation charges in light of the fact that expulsion letters were delivered in a customary style and that disciplinary decisions were typically conveyed to party members through the media.

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