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Calcutta High Court says having fundamental right to speech does not give one the right to tarnish reputation of someone in society

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The Calcutta High Court said that having fundamental right to speech does not give one the right to tarnish the reputation of someone in society.

A division bench comprising of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Prasenjit Biswas clarified that the freedom of speech and expression is not absolute, even though it is regarded not only as a Constitutional right but a right inhered in every human.

The bench very clearly stated that merely having a fundamental right of right to freedom of speech and expression does not permit right to tarnish the image or reputation of another individual.

The bench said that the reputation of a person is of utmost importance in society and any attempt to tarnish such reputation must be restrained.

“The order that was given on October 18 said that it the reputation of a person is one of the primary factor which weighs in the society and any attempt either by a spoken word or publication or letters circulated through internet portal on the basis of an unsubstantiated and false allegation can be restrained.

To clarify the point further, the Court quoted the observation by Supreme Court observations in the case of Subramanian Swamy vs. UOI (2016),which said that the freedom of speech cannot be regarded as so righteous that it would make the reputation of another individual absolutely ephemeral.

The Court made these observations while dealing with a plea filed by the Director of IFB Soumendra Kumar Biswas.

Director IFB had moved Court seeking for restraining orders against the defendants, who claimed to be a forum of the investors in IFB Group.

A complaint was lodged by the defendants against Biswas in 2015 alleging several criminal activities on his part. The police however found that all those allegations were baseless and filed a closure report in 2017.

A letter was then circulated making “scurrilous” allegations against Biswas, in which he was accused of having an ill motive and of filing false cases against the defendants to jeopardise their case.

A plea was moved by Biswas, before a sessions court to restrain the defendants from making such statements.

The court below declined to pass an injunction order, opining that Biswas could be adequately compensated through the payment of money instead.

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