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President and Directors of the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society Ltd. Vs. M.K. Mohamed Ali and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1969CriLJ701
AppellantPresident and Directors of the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society Ltd.
RespondentM.K. Mohamed Ali and ors.
Excerpt:
.....and in the course of his speech said that the president of the agricultural produce co-operative marketing society limited, is 'a dog and not a man' and the board of directors of the same are robbers and they are selling the goods of the society to their friends only and thereby duping the poor people. of sugar to shri gejji shetty alias laxmiah setty without the permit of the deputy commissioner and thus in the habit of selling the controlled goods of the society fraudulently and thereby duping the poor people. the 3rd accused who presided over the meeting stated what the 4th accused spoke was correct and true and they the president and the board of directors be ousted as they are fraudulently selling the goods of the society, mismanaging the same and abusing their powers and sucking..........class magistrate of mercara in crl.c.no. 78 of 1965 on the file of his court holding that the complaint filed by the petitioner was unsustainable, discharged the accused who are the respondents in this revision petition under section 253(1) of the crl.p.c. by his order dated the 27th december 1965.2. the sessions judge in a revision filed before him by the petitioner against the order of the discharge, confirmed the order of the magistrate and dismissed the revision petition. it is against that order that the petitioner has come up in revision before this court.3. it was argued on behalf of the petitioner that the lower court was not right in holding that the complaint was not filed by varadaraja shetty, the president of the agricultural produce co-operative marketing society,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Ahmed Ali Khan, J.

1. The First Class Magistrate of Mercara in Crl.C.No. 78 of 1965 on the file of his Court holding that the complaint filed by the petitioner was unsustainable, discharged the accused who are the respondents in this revision petition under Section 253(1) of the Crl.P.C. by his order dated the 27th December 1965.

2. The Sessions Judge in a revision filed before him by the petitioner against the order of the discharge, confirmed the order of the Magistrate and dismissed the revision petition. It is against that order that the petitioner has come up in revision before this Court.

3. It was argued on behalf of the petitioner that the lower Court was not right in holding that the complaint was not filed by Varadaraja Shetty, the President of the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society, Limited, in his individual capacity. It was also strongly urged that even otherwise if the complaint petition is construed to have been filed by the Co-operative Marketing Society on its behalf through its President, the Courts below were not right in their finding that the complaint petition filed was unsustainable.

4. It was submitted by the learned Advocate for the petitioners that it is clear from the complaint petition that the Cooperative Marketing Society was defamed. Therefore, the Magistrate was competent to entertain the complaint petition.

5. There appears to be no force in the first contention.

6. In support of the first contention it was submitted on behalf of the petitioner that it is not only the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society which consisted not only of the petitioner Varadaraja Shetty but also the members of the Managing Committee who together constitute the society as a company or as an association or a collection or persons and if all these persons are defamed by the accused (respondent) either individually or collectively, it would amount to an offence of defamation against the society as a whole and also as against any member of the Managing Committee including the petitioner as Chairman and as such either the society by itself or the Chairman of the society in his individual capacity or any other member of the society would be construed to be the person aggrieved by the offence alleged to have been committed by the respondents.

7. In order to consider whether the complaint petition was filed in his individual capacity as President, the Court should look into the complaint petition itself. The words which had been used opposite to the petitioner in the complaint petition read as follows:

The President and Directors of the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society Limited, Kushalnagar, by its President Shri N.R. Varadaraja Shetty, Kushalnagar

By any stretch of imagination, it cannot be construed from these words that the complaint petition was filed by the President in his individual capacity. This becomes more clear when we read the complaint petition itself. In Para 1 of the complaint petition, it has been expressly stated 'that the complainant is the registered society having its office at Kushalnagar'. Therefore, there cannot be any doubt that the complaint petition has not been filed by Varadaraja Shetty in his individual capacity. Thus, there are no good grounds to interfere with the finding of the Court below on that point.

8. With regard to the second contention, it was strenuously argued that even if the complaint petition is held to be made by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Society, since the allegations made in the complaint petition amount to an offence of defamation against the Society as a whole and the society being an aggrieved person, the complaint petition filed by and on its behalf was entertainable and that the Courts below were not right in holding that it was un-maintainable.

9. The subject of defamation 'any person', the words understood in the sense in which it is defined in Section 11 of the I.P.C., leads to the conclusion more explicitly set out in Explanation No. 2 to Section 499 of the I.P.C., but it is only intended to amplify what was already implied in Section 11 of the I.P.C. Therefore, it is true that the principle of law is the same whether the person defamed be an individual or a corporation or a society or a collection of individuals m. its application. There is this difference that a corporation or society has no reputation or human feeling apart from properties attached to it. That principle was laid in an English decision Metropolitan Saloon Omnibus Co. Ltd. v. Hawkins (1859) 4H and N87, which had been followed in subsequent decisions of the English Courts.

The same principle has been enunciated by the Rangoon High Court in Maung Chit lay v. Maung Tun Nyun AIR 1935 Rang. 108. A complaint by an aggrieved person is a condition precedent to the jurisdiction of a Court to deal judicially with the offences mentioned in Section 198 of the Criminal P.C. Judicial proceedings held in the absence of such a complaint is a nullity. Therefore, the main point for consideration in this case-would be that even assuming that the complaint petition is filed by and on behalf of the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society through its President, whether the society in view of the allegations made in the complaint petition can tie regarded as an aggrieved person. The allegations made or contained in Para 3 of the complaint petition are as follows:

The 4th accused made a speech and in the course of his speech said that the President of the Agricultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society Limited, is 'a dog and not a man' and the Board of Directors of the same are robbers and they are selling the goods of the society to their friends only and thereby duping the poor people. He also said that the President sold one consignment of sugar in black market and earned money illegally and also sold three bags wheat to Shri S.N. Laxmana Shetty and 25 kgs. of sugar to Shri Gejji Shetty alias Laxmiah Setty without the permit of the Deputy Commissioner and thus in the habit of selling the controlled goods of the society fraudulently and thereby duping the poor people. He also said that 'in Kannada.... The President of the said society be taught a lesson and the people must know how to teach him and he need not explain the manner openly to teach him. And also he said that the President and the Board of Directors must be dishonoured in a public place by spitting on their faces. He also said that the President and the Board of Directors of the said society are dishonestly selling the controlled goods to their friends and well-wishers only and cheating the poor. The 3rd accused who presided over the meeting stated what the 4th accused spoke was correct and true and they the President and the Board of Directors be ousted as they are fraudulently selling the goods of the society, mismanaging the same and abusing their powers and sucking the blood of the poor people

10. It is thus clear that no allegation is made pertaining to the society. The allegations stated in Para 3 of the complaint petition relate to either the President or the Directors of the society. It is obvious that those allegations are not attack on the society as such, but they are attack on the President and the Directors of the Society. That being so, the society cannot be held to be an aggrieved person which was a prerequisite for the application of the provision of Section 198 of the Criminal P.C. and also for an offence punishable under Section 500 of the I.P.C. Therefore, I do not find any valid ground to interfere with the finding of the Courts below to the effect that the petition is un-maintainable.

11. My attention has been drawn to the order of the Magistrate and it was contended by the learned Advocate for the petitioner that it appears from the said order that the Magistrate has arrived at his finding on the merits and held that it was not established that the society had been defamed. It was submitted that the Magistrate ought not to have gone into the merits of the case, and should have decided the matter relating to the jurisdiction of the Court on the basis of the complaint petition only. I think the learned Advocate for the petitioner is right in his contention. The Magistrate has stated in his order that 'as there is no proof of any defamation to the society as such, I hold that this complaint is not sustainable and no case has been made out against the accused and order that the accused be and are hereby discharged under Section 253(1), Criminal P.C.'

Evidently it appears that the Magistrate had gone into the merits of the case which he should not have done. For the purpose of ascertaining whether the complaint petition was maintainable or not, or whether the Court had jurisdiction to entertain the same, the complaint petition itself ought to have been looked into. The Magistrate was not right in adverting himself to the merits of the case. These observations made by the Magistrate with reference to the merits of the case cannot have any effect in this proceeding, nor will it have any effect in any proceeding that may be filed in future.

12. On the reasons stated above, this revision petition is unsustainable. It is therefore disallowed and the same is dismissed.


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