Aroon Purie Vs. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors (31/10/2022)

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    DEFAMATION-There is no statutory immunity for the Managing Editor, Resident Editor or Chief Editor against any prosecution for the alleged publication of any matter in the newspaper over which these persons exercise control. In all these cases, the complainants have specifically alleged that these appellants had knowledge of the publication of the alleged defamatory matter and they were responsible for such publication; and the Magistrates who had taken cognizance of the offence held that there was prima facie case against these appellants. It was under such circumstances that the summonses were issued against these appellants.

    [See the full post at: Aroon Purie Vs. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors (31/10/2022)]


    Jawaharlal Darda & Ors. Vs. Manoharrao Ganpatrao Kapsikar & Anr (1998) 4 SCC 112.

    Respondent No. 1 – Manoharrao Ganpatrao Kapsikar filed a complaint in the court of CJM, Nanded, alleging that by publishing a news item in its newspaper “Daily Lokmath”, on 4.2.84, Mr. J.L.Darda, who was then the Chief Editor of that Daily, Mr. Rajinder Darda, who was the Editor of the Daily, Mr. Madhukar, who was the Executive Editor of the Daily, Mr. Deshmukh, who was connected with publication of the Daily and M/s. Darda Printo Crafts Pvt. Ltd, who were owners and proprietors of the Daily, have committed offences punishable under Sections 499, and 500, 501, 502 read with Section 34 IPC. The complaint was filed on 2.2.87.

    Learned CJM issued process against all the five accused. This order passed by the learned CJM was challenged by the five accused before the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Nanded. The learned Judge quashed that order as he was of the opinion that by publishing that news item, none of the accused had committee any offence. That order was challenged by the complainant by filing a petition in the High Court under Section 482. Cr. P.C. The High Court was of the opinion that the learned Additional Sessions Judge misinterpreted the publication. It was also of the view that when the learned CJM. had found prima facie case against the accused and thought it fit to issue process, it was not proper for the learned Additional Sessions Judge, to set aside the order, by exercising the revisional power.

    What is contended by the learned counsel for the appellant is that the High Court has taken a technical view of the matter as regards the power of the Sessions Court to exercise its revisional jurisdiction and has also committed and error in observing that the report published in the Daily was misinterpreted by it.

    As we have stated earlier, the news item was published on 4.2.84. The complaint in that behalf was filed by the complainant on 2.2.87. The news item merely disclosed what happened during the debate which took place in the Assembly on 13.12.83. It stated that when a Question regarding misappropriation of Government funds meant for Majalgaon and Jaikwadi was put to the Minister concerned, the had replied that a preliminary enquiry was made by the Government ant it disclosed that some misappropriation had taken place. When questioned further about the names of persons involved, he had stated the names of five person, including that of the complainant. The said proceedings came to be published by the accused in its Daily on 4.2.84. Because the name of the complainant was mentioned as one of the persons involved and likely to be suspected he filed a complaint before the learned CJM alleging that as a result of publications of the said report he had been defamed.

    It is quite apparent that what the accused had published in its newspaper was an accurate and true report of the proceedings of the Assembly. Involvement of the respondent was disclosed by the preliminary enquiry made by the Government. If the accused bona fide believing the version of the Minister to be true published the report in good faith it cannot be said that they intended to harm the reputation of the complainant. It was a report in respect of public conduct of public servants who were entrusted with public funds intended to be used for public good. Thus the facts and circumstances of the case disclose that the news items was published for public good. All these aspects have been overlooked by the High Court.

    We, therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the order passed by the High Court and restore the order passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge.


     Section 199 Cr.P.C. provides as under:-

    199. Prosecution for defamation.


    (1) No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860 ) except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence: Provided that where such person is under the age of eighteen years, or is an idiot or a lunatic, or is from sickness or infirmity unable to make a complaint, or is a woman who, according to the local customs and manners, ought not to be compelled to appear in public, some other person may, with the leave of the Court, make a complaint on his or her behalf.

    (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Code, when any offence falling under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860 ) is alleged to have Gulati Vineet been committed against a person who at the time of 2013.12.21 17:22 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document Chandigarh such commission, is the President of India, the Vice- President of India, the Governor of a State, the Administrator of a Union territory or a Minister of the Union or of a State or of a Union territory, or any other public servant employed in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State in respect of his conduct in the discharge of his public functions a Court of Session may take cognizance of such offence, without the case being committed to it, upon a complaint in writing made by the Public Prosecutor.

    (3) Every complaint referred to in sub- section (2) shall set forth the facts which constitute the offence alleged, the nature of such offence and such other particulars as are reasonably sufficient to give notice to the accused of the offence alleged to have been committed by him.

    (4) No complaint Under sub- section (2) shall be made by the Public Prosecutor except with the previous sanction-

    (a) of the State Government, in the case of a person who is or has been the Governor of that State or a Minister of that Government;

    (b) of the State Government, in the case of any other public servant employed in connection with the affairs of the State;

    (c) of the Central Government, in any other case. (5) No Court of Session shall take cognizance of an offence under sub- section (2) unless the complaint is made within six months from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed. (6) Nothing in this section shall affect the right of the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed, to make a complaint in respect of that offence before a Magistrate having jurisdiction or the power of such Magistrate to take cognizance of the offence upon such complaint.


    Section 7 of the Press and Registration of Books Act allows a presumption to be raised under certain circumstances. That section reads as follows:-

    1. In any legal proceeding whatever, as well civil as criminal, the production of a copy of such declaration as is aforesaid, attested by the seal of some Court empowered by this Act to have, the custody of such declaration (or, in the case of the editor, a copy of the newspaper containing his name printed on it as that of the editor) shall be held (unless the contrary be proved) to be sufficient evidence, as against the person whose name shall be subscribed to such declaration, (or printed on such newspaper, as the case may be) that the said person was printer or publisher, or printer and publisher (according as the words of the said declaration may be) of every portion of every (newspaper) whereof the title shall correspond with the title of the (newspaper) mentioned in the declaration (or the editor of every portion of that issue of the newspaper of which a copy is produced.)

    The term ‘editor’ is defined in the Act to mean a person who controls the selection of the matter that is published in a newspaper. Where there is mentioned an editor as a person who is responsible for selection of the material s. 7 raises the presumption in respect of such a person.

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