New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of penal laws on defamation on the ground that they are "outmoded" and inconsistent with the right to freedom of speech and expression.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant heard the petitions which included pleas of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for almost 18 days.
Besides senior lawyers, representing several political leaders and Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the bench also heard extensively two amicus curiae -- K Parasaran and T R Andhyarujina-- on the issue.
The pleas had sought setting aside of sections 499 and 500 of the IPC and suggested that there is a need to decriminalise penal provision for offence of defamation.
Pitching for their retention in the statute book, the Centre had strongly batted for the laws on grounds including that they have stood the test of time.
Alternatively, it had sought the petitions be sent to a larger constitution bench.
Rohatgi had said that setting aside the penal defamation laws would lead to "anarchy" and no "orderly society" can have a situation where everybody can say anything against anybody.
"Does the freedom of speech and expression necessarily mean that one can say anything about anybody? Can any orderly society have this kind of behavioural norms?
"If yes, then you will have nothing but the anarchy," Rohatgi had told the court.
"There is no great point in striking down the penal provisions...Nobody can be allowed to damage the reputation of others by saying something defamatory," he had said.