"The government has said that the person may not be able to pay. This paucity of funds is a strange argument, so criminal defamation is an appropriate remedy," Swamy told a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant that is examining the validity of penal provisions relating to criminal defamation.
"To defame someone, a person must have the status to do so. He can't be that low in the social order," Swamy told the court thrashing the government stand on retaining criminal defamation as a person accused of defamation may not be in a position to shell out money.
Arguing for the junking of the law which even its framers (British) have given up, he said that this law made it oppressive for every free-thinking person to express his views as it made truth in public interest a limited defence.
There is a social opprobrium associated with criminal prosecution of a person, Swamy told the court as he pointed out that even jokes and cartoons could not escape the rigour of the law.
Besides Swamy, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, NGO Foundation For Media Professionals and others in a batch of petitions have challenged the constitutional validity of sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code providing for criminal defamation.