V.G. Oak, J.
1. The main point raised in this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is the validity of Section 198-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Muneshwaranand Tyagi is the petitioner.
2. According to his affidavit, he is the printer, publisher and editor of a weekly 'chingari' published from Bijnor. The issue of Chingari dated 12-3-1956 contained an article commenting on the policy of the State Government about transfer of its officers. The authorities took the view that the article amounted to defamation of Dr. Ram Lal, District Medical Officer of Health. On 11-9-1956 the Public Prosecutor filed a complaint against the petitioner under Section 198-B Cr. P. C. alleging that the petitioner is guilty of defamation under Section 500, I. P. C. The petitioner's contention is that Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. is unconstitutional, and, therefore the proceedings instituted against the petitioner are illegal. This contention was raised before the learned Sessions Judge, Bijnor also, but was overruled by him. Hence this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing the proceedings pending against the petitioner before the learned Sessions Judge, Bijnor.
3. It is to be noted that the petition is directed against proceedings pending before the Sessions Judge. He is not, however, a party in the writ petition, The Sessions Judge, Bijnor ought to have been impleadcd in the writ petition. Dr. Ram Lal, opposite party No. 3, has filed a counter-affidavit.
4. Section 198, Cr. P. C. states:
'No Court shall take cognisance of an offence falling under Chapter XIX or Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code.....except upon a complaint) m;ide by some person aggrieved by such offence.....'
The offence of defamation falls under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code. It will thus be seen that Section 198, Cr. P. C. lays down that the offence of defamation cannot be taken cognizance of by a Criminal Court except upon a complaint by the person alleged to have been defamed.
5. Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. runs thus : '(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Code, when any offence falling under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code.....is alleged to have been committed against the President..... 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 accused being committed to it for trial, upon a complaint in writing made by the Public Prosecutor.....'
It will be seen that Section 198-B, Cr, P. C. is an exception to the rule laid down in Section 198, Cr. P. P. When a public servant is alleged to have been defamed, prosecution for defamation is permissible in the absence of a complaint by the person defamed. It has been urged for the petitioner that Section 198-B Cr. P. C. involves discrimination; Reliance has been placed on Article 14 of the Constitution. Article 14 lays down:
'The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.'
6. Courts have recognized that a reasonable classification does not involve violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. gives special protection to public servants. It is to be noted that, Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. applies to conduct in the discharge of public functions. The persons dealt with in Section 198-B, Cr. P. C, are engaged in the discharge of public functions. Trials for defamation often drag on in courts for several months. If a public servant is required to file a complaint for defamation, that requirement may interfere with his public duties. It is on that principle that special protection has been given to public servants in Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. The classification recognized in Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. is reasonable. It is to be noted that the classification does not rest on any such ground as caste, religion or sex. The principle recognised in Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. is that a public servant's time should not be wasted in litigation. (7) Sub-section (5) of Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. states:
'When the Court of Session takes cognizance of an offence under Sub-section (1), then.....the Court of Session .....shall follow the procedure prescribed for the trial by Magistrates of warrant cases.....'
8. Ordinarily, a case of defamation is tried by a Magistrate as a warrant case. A case falling under Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. is tried by a Court of Session as a warrant case. In either case the procedure in the trial is the same. In a case falling under Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. the accused gets the benefit of trial by a Court of Session. So such an accused is in no worse position than an accused in an ordinary case of defamation. So the special procedure prescribed in Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. does not involve any hardship to the accused.
9. Section 198-B, Cr. P. C. does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution. The impugned provision is valid. The petitioner's trial must, therefore, proceed.
10. The petition is dismissed with costs to opposite party No. 3. The stay order dated 15-4-1957 is vacated.