The ‘Penjore Penjore’ case is not about Mr. Penjore, and nor is it about his facebook posts over the years. He has to be accountable for what he writes or says and any private citizen has the legal right to sue him if they feel defamed by him.
The issue is also not about the defamation law as the defamation law is important to protect the reputation and good name of people when they are unfairly accused or defamed.
The issue here is the OAG taking legal action against an individual with no case sent to it and with no permission from the government.
The issue here is about the OAG being both the complainant and the prosecutor.
The issue here is the entire power of the legal arm of the state being brought against a private citizen when it should actually be a private case between two individuals which are the AG and Penjore.
The issue here is about the 16-day detention of Penjore for a facebook post against the AG even before his guilt is established. Remember that even if Penjore is convicted for defamation, it is a petty misdemeanor which is an offence for which he can pay Thrim-thue and avoid any jail time.
So the process of complaint and investigation here is far worse then even being convicted.
The issue here is the precedent the case is already setting and the impact it can have on the freedom of speech and freedom of media for all times to come.
The issue here is the government so far washing its hands off the case saying no permission is needed for prosecution. This means that the OAG can tomorrow sue anyone for critical social media posts, media articles, statements etc without any complaint from any agency or permission from the government.
The issue here is a situation where the legal arm of the government can prosecute private citizens at will and yet the government of the day can escape political accountability saying the OAG is autonomous – which is not true. The AG under the OAG act is accountable to the Prime Minister.
The issue here is of an already very powerful OAG accumulating even more controversial powers to the detriment of individual rights.
The issue here is the OAG ignoring that fact that public institutions and figures are subject to criticism, both fair and unfair, in a democracy and they must take them in their stride.
The issue here is that in trying to escape adverse comments against itself, the OAG, in the process, is giving an open license to all government agencies to behave in the same way. This will be dangerous for our young democracy.
The issue here is the first ever case in our young democracy of the state suing a private citizen for defamation under very controversial and questionable circumstances.
The issue here is the naked display of power of the government against a private individual, and the elected government not moving to correct the situation as it may secretly benefit the political prospects of any elected government, now or in the future, to have an aggressive OAG and lesser people writing critical things or thinking ten times before posting something.
The issue here is the direction our democracy will take if this case is successful under the current circumstances.
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.