New Delhi May 13: A PIL was today filed in the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the city government's decision to file defamation cases against media organisations for publishing or broadcasting news that damage reputation of the chief minister, his council of ministers and the government.
It alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal issued the circular in interest of his political establishment which is "a clear case of misuse of public office /fund for his personal interest and had nothing to do with the general public for which he holds the office". The plea, by an advocate, said the circular is "issued in the interest of the chief minister and his council of ministers, to protect their interest against the print/ electronic media".
According to the circular issued by the state information and publicity department, if any officer associated with the Delhi government feels that a published or aired item damages his or the government's reputation, he should file a complaint with the principal secretary (home).
The circular also states that after getting a go-ahead from the director (prosecution), the matter should be referred to the law department and after taking approval from the government, a case should be filed. Challenging the constitutional validity of the circular, petitioner M L Sharma said, "public office cannot be used for personal interest in any manner."
"Public money and office time can be used for the public work and impugned circular does not speak and work for public interest. Personal interest is not allowed on the head of public money. If they have any complaint they can file personal complaint in any court...," the petitioner said.
He further claimed that the circular is a "clear case of corruption done by the Chief Minister for having pecuniary advantage via misuse of public office and fund for his personal interest without any approval from the governor".
"The impugned circular has been issued to save himself and kill freedom of press as well as general public's right to know as guaranteed under Article 19 of Constitution of India.
"To prohibit publication of information in media Arvind Kejriwal misused public office and issued direction to the public officers to work for his interest under the garb of the impugned circular," the plea alleged.
It also sought action against the Delhi Chief Minister under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. It is a clear case of attempt to violate the fundamental right of Indian citizens as granted under the Constitution of India, the petition alleged.