Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai is facing a criminal defamation case. A private company, Mahan Coal Ltd, has filed the case against her, but the Supreme Court is taking a look into her plea, and also seeking clarification as to whether a private firm is eligible to file a criminal defamation case citing a recent judgment, The Indian Express reports.

Pillai has been booked for allegedly carrying out negative publicity and protests over purported irregularities in mining activities. However, she submitted her counter-plea to a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit, saying that the company doesn’t have the rights to file a criminal case though a civil remedy could be justified.

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The bench declared that the judgment has already been delivered in the case, adding, “Nothing remains in the matter. We are disposing of the matter in the wake of the judgment already being delivered on the issue. You have the liberty to pursue the remedies as per law.”

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who was seeking intervention in Pillai’s plea to file a fresh petition, was granted liberty by the court.

Pillai’s petition reads, “A corporate entity cannot be imprisoned for criminal defamation and can only be fined. As such in the interest of Article 14 and equality before the law, it should be able to seek damages, not imprisonment.”

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She also added that she was, “the victim of an abuse of justice and process, by which the respondent — through Mahan Coal — has used the criminal defamation provision in a strategy against public participation, association, discussion and advocacy. It was a part of a pattern of strategic lawsuits against public participation whereby corporations are using criminal defamation provisions to persecute and limit the discussions and advocacy, and association around issues concerning issues of public interest and participation”.

“It is an important issue. We can’t just let it go. The issue needs to be examined,” the apex court had told the Centre on September 5 last year.

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Feature Image Credit: The Indian Express

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