Madras HC over Toon Controversy: Can’t teach ethics to people, Cartoon Will Lose Life If Taken Without Context

Madras High Court Law InsiderMadras High Court Law Insider

Queency Jain – 

Madras High Court has quashed a criminal defamation case against a person who allegedly defamed the authorities by posting a defamatory cartoon on his Facebook page.

The accused was alleged for publishing a defamatory cartoon in which he basically depicted the self-immolation incident of 23 October 2017.

The cartoon portrayed the District Collector, the Superintendent of police, and the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu without clothes, thereby covering their private parts with currency notes and watching the burning body of a baby.

The Court observed that the most important thing that arises from the incident is to understand where the fundamental right of freedom of speech & expressions begins and where it must end.

The Court noted that Article 19(2) which talks about freedom of speech and expression is not an absolute right and the cartoonist is also bound by law to not defame anyone.

The Court said that the ability to see a particular event differs from person to person where a few might find it to be over-exaggerated while others might find it appropriate.

The Court held that the intention of the cartoonist was not to defame anyone but was a way to express his grief and anger against the authorities and criticize their inability in containing the collection of exorbitant interest by the money lenders.

In conclusion, the Court quashed the petition thereby stating that there was no criminal intention on the part of the accused and he was merely expressing his anger over the event.

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