S.M. Ali, J.
1. Heard learned Counsel for the petitioners. None appears on the other side.
2. This application under Section 402, Cr.P.C. is directed for quashing the proceeding of Case No. C.R. 537 of 1982 pending in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, 1st Class Te2pur, as well as the order dated 19.8.1982 passed by the learned Magistrate issuing process under Sections 500/501/34, IPC, against the petitioners for appearance in the Court.
3. Opposite party Shri Purna Narayan Sinha instituted a complaint before the learned Judicial Magistrate, Darrang, Tezpur, on 18.8.1982 alleging that the people's agitation known as Assam Agitation spearheaded by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) was in progress for the past 3 years against: infiltration of foreign nationals into Assam, demanding their detection, deletion of their names from the electoral rolls and their deportation and that this movement is not aimed at secession of Assam from India. It is further alleged that accused No. 1 V.D. Chopra, Editor, Link News Magazine, accused 2 R.K. Misra, Jt. Editor of the Magazine, accused 3 Aruna Asaf Ali, Chairman, Editorial Board of the said magazine, accused 4, N.S. Raghave, Printer and Publisher of the said magazine, accused 5, T.N. Kaul, a contributor of the said magazine, accused G.B.T. Ranadive another contributor of the said magazine and Member, Polit Bureau CPI (M) and President, CITU, all of them with the common object and intentionists of sabotaging the Assam agitation and forthcoming talk for settlement of the issues involved between the agitators and the Government of India and for defaming and lowering the Assam agitations in the eyes and estimation of the world public, published in the issue of the 15th August, 1982 of the Link News Magazine, an article captioned 'Improving the Body Politic' at pages 11 & 12 together with a group photograph of some of the agitationists sitting in Dharna (Satyagraha) captioned 'Assam Agitationists - Threat to National Security from inside' which was contributed by accused 5. It is alleged that this false statement has been deliberately published to defame the peaceful agitationists and to baffle the talk of settlement between the agitators and the Government of India that was going to be held on 25th August, 1982 as well as to lower the agitation leaders in the eyes and1 estimation of the people of the world. Accused 6 has contributed to the issue of the Link News Magazine which has been published by Accused 1, 2, 3 and 4 at pages 20 & 21, an article captioned 'case of an Enchained Eagle' wherein inter alia it is stated 'the entire north eastern region is seething with discontent. Assam and other States have become the hotbed of secessionist movement nourished and helped by Under Section imperialists. It is known that there is foreign hand which is diverting the discontent into secessionist channels' etc. etc. It is stated in the complaint that the complainant is one of the agitationists and that he courted arrest and imprisonment in connection with his taking part in the satyagraha and demonstration in the agitation.
4. On this complaint the learned Magistrate examined the complainant under Section 200, Cr.P.C. and summoned the accused persons under Sections 500/501/34, IPC. But as the accused persons failed to appear, the learned Magistrate ultimately issued warrant of arrest against them. Thereafter, this petition has been filed on behalf of the petitioners.
5. The complainant states that accused 5 Shri T.N. Kaul and accused 6 Shri B.T. Ranadive contributed the aforementioned two. articles in the annual number of the Link News Magazine dated 15th August, 1982 under the captions respectively 'Improving the Body Politic', and 'case of an Enchained Eagle'. Along with the complaint a copy of the said issue of the Magazine was also submitted by the complainant before the learned Magistrate. In the firstly mentioned article is contained a group photograph and below it the description is 'Assam agitationists threat to national security from inside' and in the secondly mentioned article, the objectionable statement reads thus:
The entire north eastern region is seething with discontent. Assam and other States have become the hotbed of secessionist movement, nourished and helped by Under Section imperialists. It is known that there is foreign hand which is diverting the discontent into secessionist channels. But can the ruling party do anything about it. It tried to control the discontent bureaucratically but is not summoning all its strength and following among the people to combat the movement. Only the CPI (M) and other left parties in Assam are discharging their responsibilities to the nation.
6. Learned Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the complainant in present case is not an aggrieved person. He referred to the provisions of Section 199, Cr.P.C. wherein it is provided 'No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Chapter XXI, Penal Code (45 of 1860), except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence'. There is a proviso to this section with which we are not concerned in the present case. The case of the complainant is that he is one of the agitationists who 'courted arrest and imprisonment having taken part in satyagraha and demonstration in the agitation'. Learned Counsel argued that the term 'agitationist' connotes an indefinite and unidentifiable group and that such a group of 'agitationists' cannot be taken as a fixed one but has an inherent ever changing nature in the way that many agitationists cease to be so and many hitherto unconnected persons turn to be agitationist with variation of time. Learned Counsel relied on G. Narasimhan v. T.V. Chokkappa : 1973CriLJ52 . It was held in that case that Section 198, old Cr.P.C. which was the same as present Section 199, Cr.P.C. lays down an exception to the general rule that a complaint can be filed by anybody whether he is an aggrieved person or not and modifies that rule by permitting only an aggrieved person to move the Magistrate in case of defamation. It was further held that the section being mandatory, the Magistrate is debarred from taking cognizance and trial of accused persons if the complaint be filed by one who is not an aggrieved person,. In the cited case, a complaint was filed under Section 500/501, IPC, by the Chairman of the Reception Committee of a conference organized by the party named Dravide Kazhagam. The complaint was in respect of a news item published by the accused in their newspaper regarding certain resolution. The resolution was read out by the President of the Conference and taken as passed because no one got up to oppose it. The conference consisted of a large number of members of the party, sympathisers, leaders, outsiders including 5000 women. It was held that it was impossible to have any definite idea as to the number of persons who attended the conference, the ideas and ideologies to which they subscribed and whether all of them positively agreed to the resolution in question. The conference clearly was not an identifiable or a definite body so that all those who attended it can be said to be its constituents who, if the conference was defamed, would in their turn, be said to be defamed. The Chairman of the Reception Committee of the Conference could not therefore be said an aggrieved person entitled to maintain the complaint within the meaning of Section 198, Cr.P.C. (Section 199 of the present Cr.P.C). Explanation II to Section 495 lays down the rule that it may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or a collection of persons as such, and that defamation moved against the collection of persons thus falls within the definition of defamation and that the language of the explanation is wide and, therefore, besides a company or an association, any collection of persons would be covered by it. But such a collection of persons must be an identifiable body so that it is possible to say with definiteness that a group of particular persons as distinguished from the rest of the community was defamed. Therefore, in a case where Explanation II is resorted to, the identity of the company or the association or the collection of persons must be established so as to be relatable to the defamatory words or imputations, Learned Counsel for the petitioners pointed out that in that objectionable portion of the article 'Case of an Enchained Eagle', there is a statement of discontent in the north eastern region and that also there is a statement of Assam and other States having become hotbed of secessionist movement nourished and helped by the U. Section imperialists. Referring to this statement, learned Counsel submitted that there is no statement of 'agitationists' of whom the complainant claims to be one. The agitationists against foreign nationals in Assam, according to the learned Counsel, cannot be identified with the group of secessionists that might be envisaged by the accused persons and that the secessionists whoever they might be in the minds of the accused persons are quite distinguishable and different from the agitationists against foreign nationals of whom the complainant is one. It is not there in the allegedly objectionable statement that the agitationists against foreign nationals are being nourished and helped by U. Section imperialists or any other foreign agency. The term 'discontent' is a very wide one and it might have diverse effect one of which might be 'secessionist channel' as envisaged by the accused persons. Learned Counsel makes a clear distinction between the Assam agitationists whose objective is to cause deportation of foreign nationals who might be in the State of Assam and the group of secessionists who might be working in a different channel. He therefore argues that in that view of the matter and there is no reason to hold any other view in the present case that the complainant cannot be an aggrieved person as envisaged under Section 199, Cr.P.C.
7. The next point advanced by the learned Counsel for the petitioners is regarding the photograph and the description stated at the foot of the photograph at page 12 of the concerned issue of the news magazine. He points out that there is no statement in the complaint that the complainant himself is also included in the photograph. The photograph no doubt speaks of Assam agitationists but there is no indication that in this photograph there is the photograph of the complainant also. As found above the group or body of persons indicated by the term 'agitationists' does not connote a definite or identifiable body. It is therefore quite clear that the complainant is not an aggrieved person with regard to the publications made in the aforesaid two articles. The agitationists whose photographs appear in the aforesaid article might be the aggrieved persons provided the statement 'Threat to National Security from inside' be taken as an objectionable and defamatory one. Anyway, the complainant cannot complain that he has been defamed by means of this photograph.
8. I find sufficient force in the aforesaid argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioners and hold that the proceeding in its, present shape should not continue in view of the provisions of Section 199, Cr.P.C. on the ground that the complainant O.P. is not an aggrieved person for the alleged statements and the photograph.
9. In the result, the petition is allowed. The impugned proceeding and the order passed by the learned Magistrate are hereby quashed.