• Monday, Jan 25, 2021
  • Last Update : 04:19 am

ED: A need to update our defamation laws

  • Published at 12:32 am January 14th, 2021
GAVEL and hammer

This sets an extremely dangerous pattern

There can be no state without functional laws; by definition, laws exist to protect the citizens’ rights and ensure they receive justice when wronged. However, when the law itself is far from functional, not only does it threaten the very people they are supposed to protect, but can end up making a mockery of justice. 

Unfortunately, that is the reality of certain laws in our country, and nowhere is this more applicable than in regards to our defamation laws. While having in place defamation laws by itself is not the problem, it becomes a slippery slope when third parties are allowed to file defamation cases on behalf of someone who may not even agree with the complaint. 

We have seen this play out in reality often enough. Even when the party alleged to have been defamed has himself or herself not filed any case, and is against the filing of cases, there are others who do not hesitate to file these cases. This sets an extremely dangerous pattern, and as we have seen repeatedly, it can be weaponized to silence people across the board and discourage any opposing opinions.  

Moreover, this liberty to file cases just racks up case after case, creating a larger backlog and contributing to nothing but more work for an already overburdened judiciary. 

However, the recent example of two lawyers filing defamation cases against the former Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayor, Sayeed Khokon, on behalf of the current mayor, Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, shows, as clear as day, why allowing third parties to file cases on behalf of another can be downright embarrassing, often causing more trouble and rarely coming to an amicable solution. It is heartening to see that good sense has prevailed, and Mayor Taposh has urged the complainants to withdraw the cases.  

Therefore, it is imperative that the authorities concerned take a long, hard look at these provisions that exist within our legal system, and when it comes to our defamation laws, make the necessary amendments.  

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