Editor’s Arrest Underlines Need for Defamation Law Reform in India

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is

concerned at the arrest of T.P. Nandakumar, a magazine editor in the southern

Indian state of Kerala, on charges of defamation. Nandakumar was taken into

custody on July 3 following a complaint lodged by an Indian businessman

resident in the Gulf emirate of Abu

Dhabi. He was released on bail the following day.



who edits a weekly magazine called Crime, was under court injunction not

to publish any material on the complainant. His arrest followed the posting of

an article pertaining to the same individual on the magazine website, www.crimenewsonline.com.


Crime magazine has earned a wide readership in recent years by carrying a

number of stories with significant political impact. According to IFJ sources

in Kerala, these stories have touched on the alleged misdeeds of several of the

major parties that contest for political power in the state.


A recent story that it featured on the

Minister for Education and Culture in the state, led to libel action under

applicable civil law.


“Without going into the content of the article

in question, we believe that criminal action for defamation has no place in a

democratic system that respects a free press,” IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“We urge that remedies for perceived acts of

libel or defamation be sought through civil law so that firm judicial

precedents are established on the protection of privacy and personal reputation.”


While recognising that such precedents would

be of value, the IFJ remains firm in its conviction that ethical guidelines for

the media are best evolved by professional bodies of journalists.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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