We think the Magistrate has taken a perfectly correct view of the accused's conduct. He distributed broadcast this insinuation against the directors of the Company-knowing that the complainant and other directors charged no fees for their services, and distributed it to members of the public who could not possibly be interested in the Company's affairs. For these reasons we confirm the conviction and sentence and dismiss the appeal.
1. I desire to add a few words, having regard to the importance of the question raised here and the necessity of making clear the law applicable at a time when several companies in the interest of the public are being started for the growth of commercial enterprise in the country. I do not think that any decision of ours ought to affect the right of any subject of His Majesty to expose the mal-practices of companies started in the interest of the public. I will look at this question, which has been raised in this case, both from the point of view of privilege and of public interest.
2. Assuming that this was a question in which only the shareholders of the Company were interested, there can be no doubt upon the finding of the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate that the privilege, such as it was, was exceeded by the accused in that he had the circular or hand-bill containing the defamatory matter charged issued to and circulated among people who were not shareholders of the Company or were, therefore, not interested in its affairs.
3. Assuming, however, that the privilege of the accused extended beyond that and that the matter was one of public interest, so that it was open to any member of the public to criticize the conduct of the Company and bring it to the notice of the public, even then we have here the finding of the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate that the circular contained allegations which were not in accordance with truth, because it insinuated that all the directors were charging fees for doing nothing for the Company, and were engaged as it were in swindling it. That insinuation, the Magistrate finds, is not in accordance with facts, because 'the complainant and other directors,' says the Magistrate, 'as a matter of fact charged no fees for their services owing to the financial state of the Company.'
4. No doubt, the law is that where a matter is of public interest, the Court ought not to weigh any comment on it in a fine scale; that some allowance must be made for even intemperate language, provided, however, that the writer keeps himself within the bounds of substantial truth ; that he does not misrepresent or suppress any facts. See Edmondson v. Birch and Co. Limited  1 K.B. 371. That is also the law under the Indian Penal Code, because all the sections bearing on the question of defamation in the Penal Code require that there must be good faith, and 'good faith' means due care and attention. In the present case we cannot say that even supposing this was a matter of public interest and the accused was justified in bringing forward the affairs of the Company to the notice of the public, for the public good, he exercised good faith.
5. On either of the grounds which I have mentioned the decision of the Magistrate must be upheld and this rule discharged.