The Penjore Penjore defamation case is not just about Penjore or the OAG but it has much wider ramifications for the freedom of speech and freedom of media enshrined in the Constitution.
What is most troubling about the case is that the legal arm of the government in the form of the OAG has booked a person for defamation without any complaint against him from any government agency.
The OAG is not an independent Constitutional body like the ACC, RAA, ECB and the RCSC, but it is clearly a part of the government with clear accountability of the AG to the PM and the larger government.
In this case even the permission of the PM has not been sought.
This case sets an unhealthy precedent for the future whereby the OAG can directly sue people for criticizing them or any government agency with no permission from the government.
The actions of the OAG will act as a dampener on the freedom of speech and media.
The Prime Minister as the head of the government and the boss of the AG cannot wash his hands off the matter, and leave it entirely up to the OAG saying it is autonomous or that the OAG does not require his permission.
The PM has full powers over the OAG given his powers to select and remove the AG. This, therefore, means that the Prime Minister and by extension the cabinet and this elected government are accountable and responsible for whatever the OAG does in this case.
If the PM choses not to stop this travesty of justice, then the people will be right to blame the current government as the first elected government that has sued a private citizen.
If the AG feels personally defamed by the post of Penjore then he has every right to file a private case, but it is another matter to use the OAG which is the legal arm of the government.
It is regrettable that Penjore lost his liberty for 16 days even before he was convicted for a crime and so the process has already become a punishment.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Hall