On Thursday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin ordered the withdrawal of 90 defamation cases filed against various English and Tamil newspapers, magazines, and news channels in the state between 2012 and February 2021. The defamation cases were filed by the erstwhile AIADMK government during its tenure. In its election manifesto, DMK had promised a withdrawal of cases filed against media, if elected to power.
M K Stalin-led DMK government in the state can only withdraw defamation cases that were filed by the state government but the cases filed by ministers, politicians, bureaucrats in their individual capacity will continue.
The cases were filed against both the Tamil and English press. Among the English press, four had been filed against the editor of The Hindu newspaper, five against the editor of The Times of India, and one against The Economic Times.
Furthermore, in Tamil media, 23 cases were slapped against the editor of weekly Tamil Magazine Nakheeran, 17 against the editor of Murasoli, the mouthpiece of the DMK, 12 against the editor of Tamil daily Dinamalar, 11 against the editor of weekly magazine Junior Vikatan, nine against Ananda Vikatan and four against Tamil daily Dinakaran.
Cases that were filed against English and Tamil news channels such as NDTV, Times Now, Puthiya Thalaimurai, News 7, Sathyam, Captain, and Kalaignar will also be withdrawn by the government.
Journalists on Thursday took to social media platforms to appreciate this move by the DMK government and expressed that defamation cases are started by governments to prevent journalists from bringing the truth to light.
Under the Jayalalitha-led AIADMK regime (2002- 2006) almost 120 criminal defamation cases were filed against the media. DMK too in its previous tenure (2006-2011) has also filed defamation complaints against the media, however, the numbers were much less.
Complaints were filed against even news anchors for reading statements by the DMK, there were also defamation complaints filed against the media for criticising certain government policies.
Between 2011 and 2016 alone, the Tamil Nadu government initiated 213 defamation lawsuits against persons who criticised former CM J Jayalalithaa.
The list of 213 cases was presented to the Supreme Court by the Tamil Nadu government in 2016 during a defamation case procedure after the Supreme Court inquired about the defamation cases filed by the then-AIADMK government.