1. By this writ petition under Art. 227 of the Constitution of India and S. 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the petitioner has challenged the order passed by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, 19th Court, Esplanade, Bombay, dated May 14, 1982, issuing process against the petitioner.
2. The jurisdiction of the Court to take cognizance of an offence is challenged in this petition. That arises on the following facts of the case.
3. The petitioner, Dr. Subramaniam Swamy who is a Member of the Lok Sabha and Deputy Leader of the Janata Party in Parliament, is the accused in a complaint filed by respondent No. 1, Prabhakar S. Pai, who happened to be the May or of Bombay at the time of the filing of the complaint. It is contended by the complainant in his complaint that the General Elections were scheduled to take place in the country in four States, namely, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal and Kerala. The accused in his capacity as the General Secretary of the Janata Party had been actively campaigning for the success of his party candidates. On May 10, 1982 the accused was campaigning for the said Elections in Chandigarh in the State of Haryana. It is further alleged that on the same day, that is, on May 10, 1982, the accused held a press conference at Chandigarh, and during the said press conference he made a malicious and vituperative attack on the complainant. The defamatory statement made by the accused has been annexed with the complaint at Exhibit A. The said defamatory statement was made in the presence of several news reporters and others. On the following day, that is, on May 11, 1982, the Delhi edition of the Indian Express reported that per se defamatory statement on page 5 under the news item titled 'Smugglers gave BJP 5 crores for poll : Swamy;. It is further stated in the complaint that the Delhi edition of the Indian Express reaches Bombay by 12 noon on the same day and circulated for sale. Several citizens of the City of Bombay purchase and read the Delhi edition of the Indian Express. It is the contention of the complainant that every statement made by the petitioner relating to his reputation made in the said press conference is per se defamatory, and it is intended to malign and denigrate the complainant and to lower him in the esteem of the public. It is also intended to lower his moral character and political status. This complaint is filed before the learned Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Bombay. It appears that after verification of the complaint the learned Magistrate ordered to issue summons to the accused. It is that order which is challenged in this petition.
4. In this petition the sole contention raised by learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner, Shri P. R. Vakil, is that the Bombay Court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence, since the alleged statement is made at Chandigarh and the publication of the said statement is from Delhi. Either the Chandigarh or the Delhi Court will have jurisdiction to entertain or take cognizance of the offence.
5. It is urged by Shri Vakil that the reliance upon the provisions of S. 179 of the Criminal P.C. 1973, by the complainant is not well founded because the offence, if any, is completed at the press conference itself and no consequence has ensued at Bombay and, therefore, the Bombay Court will have no jurisdiction to entertain or take cognizance of the offence. In support of this submission Shri Vakil relied upon the Full Bench decision of this Court in In re Jivandas Savchand 32 Born LR 1195 : AIR 1930 Bom 490. It is observed in the said decision that 'taking S. 179 alone, and reading it without the help of any authority, I should have thought it was plain that the consequence referred to is a consequence which forms part of the offence, and a consequence which does not form part of the offence does not attract jurisdiction under section 179.' Shri S. B. Jaisinghani, learned Counsel appearing for respondent No. 1, does not dispute the proposition laid down in the Full Bench decision. What is urged by Shri Jaisinghani is that by circulation of the newspaper and by reading it by others, the consequence has ensued in the City at Bombay, and that being a part of the offence itself the Bombay Court can have jurisdiction.
6. It is necessary at this stage to refer to S. 179. It lays down that when a person is accused of the commission of any offence by reason of anything which has been done, and of any consequence which has ensued, such offence may be inquired into or tried by a Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction any such thing has been done, or any such consequence has ensued. Where an act has been done which is an offence, and the consequence has ensued thereon, both the Courts can have jurisdiction to entertain or take cognizance of the offence. The controversy with reference to this section is that Shri Vakil contends that the moment a statement is made by the petitioner before the newspaper reporters and others, the act has been done at Chandigarh and the offence is complete there and then, and no consequence can be said to have ensued thereafter. Shri Jaisinghani contends that mere act is not itself complete to constitute an offence but the consequence must ensue and if the consequence ensues at a different place, the said Court can also have jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence. What is contended by Shri Jaisinghani is that a statement is made by the accused at Chandigarh, in a press conference called by the petitioner himself. He made a statement to the newspaper reporters and others with a view to get the maximum publicity to his views expressed in the press conference. It was intended to be published in the newspapers and to be circulated and read by the people at different places. The consequences that are ensued are the publication and circulation of the said papers and reading them by a large number of people. As against this, Shri Vakil contended that the petitioner never intended that it should be published. But it is the publisher who has published and circulated it. If a statement, is made at Chandigarh, whether defamatory or otherwise, the offence of defamation under S. 499 of the Indian Penal Code is complete at Chandigarh itself. It is the reporters who have reduced to writing the statement made by the petitioner and submitted it to the respective papers. The petitioner had no control in the matter of publication and circulation thereof, and, therefore, so far as the offence under S. 499 is concerned it must be said to have been completed at Chandigarh, and no further consequences ensued by virtue of a statement made in the press conference.
7. It is in this connection a reference need be made to the provisions of S. 499 of the Indian Penal Code. The said section lays down that whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases thereinafter excepted, to defame that person. On a plain reading of the said S. 499, it is clear that it envisages three modes intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person. It is either by words spoken or written, intended to read, or by signs and visible representations. Words spoken are to be heard, words written are intended to be read by others and signs and visible representations are to be seen. The word 'written' has not been purposefully mentioned in the section. The defamatory words if written in personal diary are not intended to be read by others. Such written words would not fall within the mischief of S. 500 of the Indian Penal Code. Therefore, word 'written' is deliberately absent in S. 499 of the Indian Penal Code. The words 'intended to be read' in the section obviously mean that the word written or got them written with a view to be read by others would fall within, the mischief of that section.
7A. Further, there are two important words in the said section which are required to be taken into account. They are 'makes' or 'publishes'. The first part deals with an act of a person, and the words 'makes' or 'publishes' connote that it must be published so that it can reach to others so that such imputation, if any, would harm the reputation of such person. Shri Vakil, to some extent, is right in contending that there can be per se a defamatory statement spoken by a person in the presence of others, harming the reputation of another person. If A speaks or makes a statement per se defamatory to B in the presence of C, the offence is complete, but if A makes a statement in a closed room in the absence of B or C, although spoken, will not amount to defamation, because it has not only to be addressed or spoken but should be published, unless the publication takes place, and unless the person to whom such words are spoken also hears such imputation, the offence cannot be said to have been completed. In order to constitute an offence under S. 499 the words, either spoken or written, must be published so that such imputation may lower that person in the eyes of others, otherwise the offence of defamation will not be complete. The word 'makes' refers to the originator who has spoken or written such per se defamatory statement. Both the words 'makes' or 'publishes', must be considered to be supplementary to each other. A person making a defamatory statement and then intending to publish it so that the reputation of such person should be lowered in the eyes of others can be prosecuted for an offence punishable under S. 500 of the Indian Penal Code. So, unless a consequence has ensued by words spoken or written and published, an offence under S. 500 cannot be said to be complete. It is in this view of the matter a publication assumes importance while considering the case falling under section 499. The words 'makes' or 'publishes', therefore, must be construed to mean to make known to the public. In this connection, it is useful to refer to a case from the Patna High Court in Amar Singh v. K. S. Badalia 1965 (2) Cri. LJ 693. The headnote of the said case states that publication implies communication to at least one person other than the person defamed, and the word 'makes' in S. 499 has been used in its etymological sense as connoting 'to make public' or 'to make known to people in general'. Similarly, in Ramesh Chander v. The State , it is observed that the word 'publishes' in the definition is obviously used in its etymological sense as connoting 'to make public' or to make known to the people in general. To quote from Halsbury's Laws of England, Third Edition, Volume 24, Page 35, 'publication consists in making known the defamatory statement after it has been reduced into some permanent form'. As a publisher or a newspaper makes known to the people in general and thus gives publicity to the news item printed in that newspaper, the case against the publisher for the publication of a defamatory news item in the paper would legally and logically amount to defamation simpliciter and, as such, would be punishable under S. 500 of the Indian Penal Code. The words 'makes' or 'publishes' also came to be considered by the Calcutta High Court in Sunilkhya Chowdhury v. H. M. Jadwet : AIR1968Cal266 . Headnote (d) of the said report states that the expression 'makes or publishes' has to be read as supplementing each other. If a person merely writes out a defamatory matter but does not publish the same, that is, does not circulate to others, it will not be defamation. The word 'makes' is intended to refer to the originator. The mechanic or the compositor or the press does neither 'make or publish' the matter that may be impugned as defamatory. Therefore, prosecution under S. 500 is not maintainable against a person who is merely a director of a company.
7B. Shri Jaisinghani also strongly relied upon the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Pasupati Purnaiah Sidhanthi v. Pasupati Satyanarayana Sidhanthi. : AIR1959AP657 . It is observed in the said decision that where the offence of defamation was committed by the accused by posting a defamatory letter from place A to place B and the actual publication of the letter took place at B where the letter was opened and read by the son of the addressee, the offence could be tried either at A where the posting took place or at B where the actual publication took place. It is further observed that when an offence which can be committed in parts has been fulfilled partly and something or other prevents the completion of the other part of the offence, in such a case, no question of jurisdiction to enquire or try the case would arise. But where a part of it has taken place in one locality and other part in another locality, the mere possibility of the letter being lost in transit would not make it appear that the offence was not committed in parts, in different localities, when actually the offence happens to be completed. In this connection, Shri Vakil very strongly relied upon the decision of the Allahabad High Court in Khwaja Mohd. Abdul Latif v. Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim : AIR1938All632 , and contended that the offence of defamation is complete as soon as per se defamatory statement is made. In the said case a complaint had been made against one Khwaja Mohd. Abdul Latif in the Court of a Magistrate of the First Class at Cawnpore, charging him with an offence under S. 500 of the Indian Penal Code. One Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim, a businessman of a substantial status at Cawnpore, had dealings with the said Khwaja Mohammad Abdul Latif who was also a leather merchant at Rajshahi in the Province of Bengal. As a consequence of their dealings Khwaja Mohammad Abdul Latif filed a complaint in the Court of a Magistrate at Rajshahi charging the said Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim with the offence of cheating under S. 420 of the Indian Penal Code. The learned Magistrate who dealt with the case directed the local police to make an inquiry under S. 202 of the Criminal P.C. 1898, and after perusing the police report issued a warrant for the arrest of the said Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim at Cawnpore. The warrant was executed by the police at Cawnpore and Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim was actually put under arrest. It appears that the complaint filed by Khwaja Mohammad Abdul Latif was dismissed by the learned Magistrate at Rajshahi and Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim was acquitted. In the said case even before the case ended in acquittal, he launched a complaint in the Court of a First Class Magistrate at Cawnpore charging Khwaja Mohammad Abdul Latif with an offence under S. 500 upon the allegation that he had deliberately made a false complaint in order to defame Moulvi Ahmad Abdul Halim. A question of jurisdiction as to the maintainability of the complaint was raised at Cawnpore. It was contended that the Moulvi had been arrested at Cawnpore in the circumstances mentioned above, and, therefore, that Court had jurisdiction to entertain the complaint. It is in those facts and circumstances of the case it was observed that the offence of defamation being complete as soon as Khwaja lodged the complaint of cheating against Moulvi in the Rajshahi Court, the arrest of Moulvi at Cawnpore was not such a consequence as is contemplated by S. 179 of the Criminal P.C., 1898, and it could not give the Cawnpore Court any jurisdiction to try the offence of defamation with which Moulvi had charged Khwaja. Relying upon the said observations from the said decision, Shri P. R. Vakil contended that the words spoken by the petitioner at the press conference at Chandigarh should be treated as a complete offence by itself, and, therefore, no consequence can be said to have ensued at Bombay, and, therefore, the Bombay, Court will have no jurisdiction to inquire into the offence. The facts of the said case, in my opinion, will not help to hold that the offence of defamation under S. 499 would be complete at Chandigarh. Since the publication of the said news item was done in Bombay and the newspaper has been circulated and read by public at Bombay, the defamation can be said to have been completed at Bombay, and, therefore, the Bombay Court can have jurisdiction.
8. It is then Shri Vakil strongly relied upon the decision of the Orissa High Court in Banka Behari Singh v. O. M. Thomas : AIR1960Ori126 . In that case it is observed that where the printing and publication of the books containing the alleged defamatory attacks against the petitioner took place at places outside the jurisdiction of the Court of the Magistrate, the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to try the complaint unless the complainant shows that the printing and publishing was part of an organised conspiracy, with the authors or with any other persons who as agents of the authors and publishers disseminated the matter within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate or that they received them by post within the jurisdiction from their place of publication outside the jurisdiction. What is held in the said case is that as soon as an act is committed the offence is completed at the place where the act is committed. Then merely because the said offence is repeated at either place, the alleged offence cannot be said to be a secondary offence within the meaning of the aforesaid section. This case deals with the scope and ambit of S. 179 of the Criminal P.C. A distinction has been made between publication of books and also the newspapers. In para 9 of the said decision it is observed that the printing and publication of the books containing the alleged defamatory attacks against the petitioner took place at Patna, Allahabad and Nagpur which were outside the jurisdiction of the Court of the Magistrate at Jashpurnagar. An ingenious attempt was, however, made to show, in the petition of complainant, that the printing and publishing was part of an organised conspirary, and the principle of S. 34 of the Indian Penal Code was also invoked. But there is absolutely no evidence to show that these persons had conspired with the authors or with any of the other persons who are undergoing trial. It is observed in Para 11 of the said decision that the complainant or some of his men might as well have purchased their books from some book-stalls or any other source, either at Allahabad, or Patna or Nagpur and then brought them to Jashpurnagar. It will not, therefore, be proper to hold that the author or the printer or publisher must necessarily be liable for the publication at any place where they may be found unless some further material is forthcoming. From the aforesaid observations it is clear that no offence in the jurisdiction of Jashpurnagar had taken place. It is observed that the books brought by someone at Jashpurnagar will not give that Court jurisdiction to entertain a complaint under S. 500 of the Indian Penal Code against the publisher of the said report. This case is purely decided on a question of fact, and no proposition of law has been laid by it as such. The observations referred to above indicate that there was no charge of a conspiracy against the accused persons and that no evidence was led to show how those books were circulated within the local jurisdiction of that Court. It is, therefore, the said case is not relevant for the purpose of decision of this case.
9. Now it has been admitted that a part of the act is done by the petitioner-accused at Chandigarh, namely, addressing a press conference and intending that all the reporters, press representatives and others should publish his views and news in the press throughout India. Calling a press conference by the petitioner is not seriously disputed. The very purpose and design to call a press conference is to express one's views before press representatives with an object that it will be given the widest publicity by the press so that a large number of people and readers should read it and know about his views and his thoughts. The Indian Express in which the impugned news item is published is circulated and read in the City of Bombay where the complaintant resides. In my view, the consequence of the statement made at Chandigarh has been completed at Bombay by circulation of the said newspapers, and, therefore, the offence of defamation is complete in the City of Bombay. In view of the provisions of S. 179 of the Criminal P.C. both the Courts, at Chandigarh and at Bombay, will have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint under S. 500 of the Indian Penal Code. It is, therfore, this petition deserves to be dismissed.
10. In the restult, the petition fails. Accordingly the rule is discharged.
11. At this stage, Shri Vakil learned Counsel for the petitioner, orally prays for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. Since there is no question involved as to the interpretation of the Constitution of India or any substantial question of law, the application is rejected.
12. Rule discharged.