Monday, May 11, 2015

Delhi govt bureaucrats asked to spot defamatory news and pass it over to principal secretary (home); full text of the controversial circular

ALL bureaucrats working under the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi have a new assignment: To find news items which they think are defamatory to chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal), his ministers and officials, and then to lodge a formal complaint to principal secretary (home) who in turn will seek the opinion of the director (prosecution) and law department so that further action could be taken. Though the circular was issued last week (May 6 to be precise), it came to the limelight only on Sunday. Political parties condemned the circular, with the BJP saying the circular implies that there is an unannounced emergency under Kejriwal. First, let's read what’s exact wording in the circular:
“The following policy is approved by the Competent Authority to deal with the instances of defamatory imputations covered under Section 499/500 of Indian Penal Code 1860 against the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Hon’ble Ministers and various other functionaries of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.
1. If by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs, or by visible representations any person makes or publishes any defamatory imputation against the Chief Minister/Ministers of Government of NCT of Delhi or any public servant employed in connection with the affairs of the Government of NCT of Delhi, in respect of his conduct in the discharge of his public functions and if the person aggrieved believes that such imputation has harmed her/his reputation, he/she will report the matter to the Principal Secretary (Home), Government of NCT of Delhi.
2. The reference made to the Principal Secretary (Home) shall contain the details of defamatory imputations made/published, the mode of publication/factual inaccuracies in the imputation, details of the allegation made and grounds for believing that it will harm the reputation of the person against whom the imputation has been made. 
3. The Principal Secretary (Home) will examine the matter and will also seek the opinion of the Director (Prosecution) as to whether the prosecution under Section 499/500 IPC is to be launched.
4. If as per the opinion of the Director (Prosecution), the offence of defamation under Section 499 is made out, the Principal Secretary (Home) will refer the matter to the Law Department for examining the matter and obtain the sanction of the Government under Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C.
5. After the sanction of the government is obtained, the Home Department will forward the case to the Public Prosecutor for making a complaint under Section 199 (2) of Cr.P.C. in the court of law of competent jurisdiction.” 

The copies of the circular were given to all principal secretaries, secretaries, heads of departments of Delhi government, all heads of autonomous bodies, commissioners, corporations of the state government, all secretaries to ministers, private secretaries to chief secretary, private secretary to principal secretary of Lieutenant Governor, principal secretaries to CM, private secretary to principal secretary (PR), and all deputy commissioners in Delhi. The document is signed by Binay Bhushan, additional director, information and publicity of the government of Delhi.
Political opponents and media personalities have condemned the circular, and reminded chief minister Kejriwal that the content of the circular goes against what Kejriwal himself advocated only recently when he had sought the Supreme Court's intervention to decriminalise the defamation law. Kejriwal is currently facing a number of defamation cases.

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