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Miss Hardevi Malkani Vs. State and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication;Criminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revn. No. 540 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1969All423; 1969CriLJ1089
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 499; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 198, 342, 367 and 439; Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 47 and 64
AppellantMiss Hardevi Malkani
RespondentState and anr.
Appellant AdvocateN.C. Rajbanshi Palok Basu, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateKeshave Sahai, Adv.
DispositionRevision allowed
Excerpt:
(i) criminal - onus of proof - first exception to section 499 of indian penal code, 1860 - on refusal for admission to girl by principal of college parent of girl approached higher authority - authority wrote to inspectress of school with a copy to principal - principal replied to letter though he was not required to do so - principal made defamatory remarks about girl in his letter - allegation against girl not proved - plea of good faith by appellant - held, plea of good faith is a question of fact and of proof lies on person raising that plea. (ii) defamation - when imputation is made against a person he is directly defamed and when imputation is made against his daughter he is indirectly defamed - in both cases person is competent to file complaint. (iii) evidence - admission of.....orderrajeshwari prasad, j.1. this is a petition in revision filed by one miss hardevi malkani.2. the petitioner was convicted for the offence under section 499 punishable under section 500 of the indian penal code and was sentenced to pay a fine of rs. 500/- and in default to undergo simple imprisonment for 20 days. that order of conviction was made by sri dinesh chandra verma, judicial officer chhibra-mau, fatehgarh,3. the petitioner filed an appeal before the sessions judge, farrukhabad. the learned sessions judge partly allowed the appeal and while maintaining the order of conviction he reduced the sentence of fine of rs. 500/- to rs. 200/- only. the fine was made payable within 15 days. in default, the petitioner was ordered to undergo simple imprisonment as directed by the learned.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajeshwari Prasad, J.

1. This is a petition in revision filed by one Miss Hardevi Malkani.

2. The petitioner was convicted for the offence under Section 499 punishable under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code and was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- and in default to undergo simple imprisonment for 20 days. That order of conviction was made by Sri Dinesh Chandra Verma, Judicial Officer Chhibra-mau, Fatehgarh,

3. The petitioner filed an appeal before the Sessions Judge, Farrukhabad. The learned Sessions Judge partly allowed the appeal and while maintaining the order of conviction he reduced the sentence of fine of Rs. 500/- to Rs. 200/- only. The fine was made payable within 15 days. In default, the petitioner was ordered to undergo simple imprisonment as directed by the learned Magistrate.

4. The prosecution of the petitioner was based upon a complaint filed by Nathoo Lal, Nathu Lal is the father of one Kumari Uma Rani. The petitioner is the Principal of Inter College for Girls, Narayan Arya Kanya Pathshala. Km, Uma Rani had applied for admission in the 9th class of the institution. The case of the prosecution was that the petitioner wrongfully and maliciously imputed bad character to his daughter Km. Uma Rani and refused her admission in the aforesaid College. When the complainant applied to the District Harijan and Social Welfare Officer about it the petitioner wrote back to the District and Social Welfare Officer a letter in which she made a defamatory statement about the complainant's daughter. Such a conduct on the part of the petitioner had defamed the complainant. It had become impossible for him to marry his daughter. It was also alleged by the complainant in his complaint that the petitioner had caused oral defamation similar in nature before other persons also. It was further alleged that the petitioner had received scholarship for Km. Uma Rani and that she had misappropriated the same.

5. The trial Magistrate, after considering the evidence produced on behalf of the prosecution, came to the conclusion that the charge of embezzlement was notproved even prima facie. He, therefore, refused to frame charge against the petitioner for offence under Section 406 I.P.C. The learned Magistrate further found that from the evidence adduced on behalf of the complainant the charge of oral defamation had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Finally the learned Magistrate arrived at the conclusion that the defamation of the complainant's daughter by the averments made in the letter written by the petitioner to the Harijan and Social Welfare Officer was proved. The letter, according to the view of the learned Magistrate, did contain defamatory matter. The learned Magistrate also arrived at the conclusion that the petitioner had failed to prove good faith. On such findings the learned Magistrate convicted the petitioner under Section 500 I. P. C. and awarded the sentence, referred to above.

6. It is not in controversy in this case that the petitioner was the Principal of the said Intermediate College which was thereafter converted into a Degree College nor is it in controversy that the complainant applied for admission of his daughter to the 9th class in the College. That application was admittedly rejected and Km. Uma Rani was not admitted. There is not much controversy about the other fact also that some scholarship for Km. Uma Rani had been realised by the said College. But on behalf of the petitioner it was urged that when mistake, with regard to scholarship, was discovered it was immediately refunded. It may be mentioned that the learned Magistrate had framed two distinct charges against the petitioner, one of which was in respect of oral defamation and the other about the defamation in writing. As the case of the complainant with regard to oral defamation was not found to have been proved by the trial Magistrate that part of the complainant's case is now no more under consideration before me.

7. The letter which is said to have contained the defamatory matter is dated 29th August, 1963 and has been marked Ex. Ka 1 on this record. It appears that on the 27th August, 1963, the District Harijan and Social Welfare Officer sent a letter to the Regional Inspectress of Girls Schools forwarding an application of Km. Uma Rani relating to the matter of her admission in the College. That application of Km. Uma Rani was forwarded to the Regional Inspectress of the Girls Schools for information and necessary action (Ex. Ka 2). The letter written by the petitioner dated 29th August, 1963, purports to be in reply to the letter of the District Harijan and Social Welfare Officer.

8. The view taken by the learned ses-sions Judge is that the said letter did notcontain any warning that it was a confidential matter. Consequently, the petitioner must be presumed to know that the District Harijan and Social Welfare Officer was bound to disclose its contents, if any body asked about the reason given for not accepting the girl in the college. The learned Sessions Judge also took the view that it was wholly immaterial whether the said officer happened to have known Km. Uma Rani or not. According to the learned Sessions Judge it was not necessary that a person should be held in esteem before his defamation is possible. The further view taken by the learned Sessions Judge was that it was not very material that the District Harijan and Social Welfare Officer had not been produced as a witness on behalf of the complainant inasmuch as a clerk of his office (P. W. 2) had been produced to prove the receipt of the aforesaid letter. The letter, according to the learned Sessions Judge was per se defamatory. It was then held by the learned Sessions Judge that the petitioner had failed to establish good faith in this case. On a perusal of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Harbhajan Singh v. State of Punjab : 1966CriLJ82 , the learned Sessions Judge came to the conclusion that where in case of the present nature the accused pleaded good faith the standard of proof required to establish good faith was same as the standard of proof in civil cases. He, however, held that it had not been proved by the complainant that the petitioner had acted maliciously although according to the learned Sessions Judge there would be a presumption of what is described by the learned Sessions Judge as 'regal malice'. It was on such findings that the learned Sessions Judge upheld the order of conviction though he reduced the sentence.

9. The letter Ex. Ka. 2 dated 29-8-63 is reproduced below because it was this letter which is said to contain the defamatory matter:--

'The District Harijan & Social Welfare Officer, Farrukhabad.

Sir,

In response to your letter No. 835 dated 27-8-63 addressed to the Regional Inspectress of Girls Schools, III Region, Allahabad and copy sent to me, I have the honour to inform that Km. Uma Rani d/o Sri Nathoo Lal is a girl of doubtful character. She had approached me to seek her admission in IX Class and her application had received my immediate attention. But on the first day she was caught loitering with some local bad characters and later on she was rescued with the police intervention. After this incident she did not appear before me.

To check any untoward incident I have disallowed her application for the admis-sion in IX Class on disciplinarian grounds. She could not continue her study in Ramanand Balika Vidhalaya due to her suspicious character and subsequently was compelled to quit the college.

Submitted.

Yours faithfully,

Sd/-

H. Malkani.'

10. The Circumstances under which the letter was written by the petitioner have already been shown in the foregoing paragraphs of this judgment. It may, however, be mentioned at this place that after the admission of Kumari Uma Rani had been refused by the petitioner. Sri Nathoo Lal father of Kumari Uma Rani sent a letter to the District Harijan & Social Welfare Officer, Farrukhabad. By means of that application, Sri Nathoo Lal wanted to invite the attention of that officer to the fact that her admission had been refused by the college concerned. The above officer forwarded the aforesaid application of Sri Nathoo Lal to the Regional Inspectress of Girls Schools Allahabad. That letter is letter No. 835 D/-27-8-1963. The letter is in vernacular. The aforesaid officer, in that letter, proceeded to say that he was forwarding the application of Kumari Uma Rani daughter of Nathoo Lal, to her, for necessary action. It was further said in that letter that whatever action is taken in the matter, it may be intimated to his office. A copy of this letter was also forwarded by the aforesaid officer to the Principal Inter College, Farrukhabad. Reference was made by the petitioner to this letter when she sent her letter to the aforesaid officer, which as said above, has been marked Ex. Ka. 2.

11. To begin with, I must clarify the position, that there is absolutely no evidence on the record to prove that the allegations made by the petitioner in her letter against Kumari Uma Rani were true. The petitioner did not raise the defence of justification. One of the averments made in her letter by the petitioner is that Kumari Uma Rani was caught loitering with some local bad characters on the first day, and that later on she was rescued with the police intervention. If this was so, it should have been possible for the petitioner to adduce evidence to establish that fact. In view of the omission to raise any defence of truth and the further omission to adduce any evi-dence to prove that what she had said in that letter about Kumari Uma Rani was true, I have no manner of doubt in coming to the conclusion that the averments in the letter made about Kumari Uma Rani are not true. There is absolutely no material to doubt the morality of the girl concerned. Likewise, the further averment in the letter that Kumari Uma Rani could not continue her study in Ramanand Balika Vidhyalay due to her suspi-cious character has not been proved to be a correct state of affairs. The transfer certificate obtained from Ramanand Balika Vidhyalay did not have any indications to show, that, what was said by the petitioner in her letter was correct, I therefore, hold that the aspersions made by the petitioner in her letter against the character of Kumari Uma Rani are unfounded. In her statement under Section 342 Cr. P. C. the petitioner pleaded good faith in making the aspersions in her; letter. The finding of the trial Magistrate so also the learned Sessions Judge is that the petitioner had failed to establish good faith on her part in this case. The question of good faith is a question of fact and I will not be justified in my revi-sional jurisdiction to interfere with that finding of the two courts below on that question. Apart from it, on the materials on the record, it is difficult to give an affirmative finding in that matter. Reliance was placed on behalf of the petitioner on the petitioner's statement under Section 342 Cr. P. C. No doubt in her statement, she has said that she in fact had acted in good faith and in the larger interest of the institution of which she was the Principal, in refusing admission to Kumari Uma Rani and in informing the Harijan Welfare Officer about the facts which she had mentioned in Ex. Ka. 2.

12. Mr. Keshav Sahai learned counsel for the complainant has urged that the onus to establish good faith lay on the accused and that in this case, she had; failed to discharge that onus. It is undoubtedly correct that the accused who wants to bring his or her case under the exceptions to Section 499 I. P. C. must satisfy the court that her case is covered by such exceptions. It has been urged that the Harijan Welfare Officer had not addressed any letter to the petitioner. Consequently, there was no duty cast upon the petitioner to write to the Harijan Welfare Officer in reply to that letter. The letter of the Harijan Welfare Officer was addressed to the Regional Inspectress of Schools and not to the petitioner. It may be that a letter written on such a subject to the Regional Inspectress, normally speaking, would have to be attended to and replied, by the Principal of the institution in which the incident had taken place. But there is nothing on the record to show that the Regional Inspectress entrusted the duty of, sending reply to this letter of the Harijan Welfare Officer, to the petitioner. Apart from such consideration, it is also clear to me that it was wholly unnecessary on the part of the petitioner to have asserted facts about the character of Kumari Uma Rani in the letter which she purported to write in reply to the forwarding note of the Harijan Welfare Officer. It would have been quite sufficient if she had informed that officer that in her judgment, she did not consider it appropriate to admit Kumari Uma Rani in her institution. It may further be noted that assertions made in that letter are not expression of opinion only. Those assertions are assertions of fact and the language is clearly indicative of the fact that the writer of that letter asserted those facts as true on her personal knowledge and not on any information received or on the basis of any probable or reasonable cause. It is true that as Principal, she owed duty, to the welfare of the students of the institution, but that duty stood fully performed as soon as, she refused to admit Kumari Uma Rani, in her institution. It was not necessary, in fulfilment of that duty, further, to make insinuations on factual basis against the character of Kumari Uma Rani. I am, therefore, of opinion that on merits also, it has not been proved that the petitioner had acted in good faith in making the assertion that she made in Ex. Ka. 2.

13. The facts asserted in the letter Ex. Ka. 2., it is equally clear, are per se defamatory, and the learned counsel for the revisionist has not seriously urged that such statement could not damage the reputation of any person. I, therefore, hold that the defence of good faith in making the defamatory averments in Ex. Ka. 2 has not been made out in this case.

14. Both the trial Magistrate as well as the learned Sessions Judge have come to the conclusion that it has not been established by the prosecution in this case that the petitioner entertained personal malice against Kumari Uma Rani. The learned counsel has very rightly conceded, that this is a question of fact into which this Court in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction perhaps could not enter. I, therefore, confirm the finding of the learned Magistrate as maintained by the learned Sessions Judge that the petitioner did not act maliciously in making the averments which she made in her letter Ex. Ka. 2.

15. It has then been urged that Section 499 I. P. C. makes it clear that it is that person who is defamed against whom imputations, intending to cause harm, or with the knowledge or belief that such imputation would cause harm, had been made. This being so, it was further urged that the person who was competent to make the complaint was Km. Uma Rani and not her father Nathoo Lal. Reference has been made to Section 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which enjoins that the Court shall take cognizance of an offence falling under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code upon complaint made by some person aggrieved by such offence. The precise argument is that that person alone canbe said to be aggrieved in respect of whom imputations as required by Section 499 I. P. C. had been made. It has been further urged that the proviso to Section 193 Cr. P. C. did not come into play on the facts of the present case. On that ba.sis, the submission made by the learned counsel for the revisionist is, that the complaint should have been dismissed on that consideration alone. Learned counsel for the revisionist has placed reliance on the decision in the case of Daud v. Empress, 1884 Pun Re 39 (Cri.). The facts of that case were that one Sharaf Din prosecuted the accused for offence under Section 323 I. P. C. The accused were defended by a pleader and that pleader was instructed, that Sharaf Din had an intrigue with one Musammat Wali, a married woman, and to ask Sharaf Din in cross-examination, whether he had not this intrigue. That question was, accordingly, put to Sharaf Din. After that case was over, Bishambar Das, the husband of Mussamat Wali, presented a complaint against the accused for his own defamation on account of the aforesaid question having been put to the witness. This prosecution resulted in conviction. In appeal, it was held that the action complained of could amount to defamation of Musammat Wali, and that there was no imputation concerning the husband of Musammat Wali upon the facts of the case. It was observed that under Section 499 I. P. C., the reputation to be harmed must be the reputation of the very person concerning whom the imputation is made and not of some other person. A further observation was made that it could be conceded that if the imputation made by the accused had been that 'Bishambar Das has an unchaste wife', it might have amounted to defamation both of Bishambar Das and of his wife.

16. The other case on which reliance was placed by Mr. Palok Basu, the learned counsel for the revisionist is the case of Empress v. Imam Bakhsh, 1887 Pun Re 91 (Cri). In that case, the lower appellate Court found that the accused had imputed unchastity to complainant's daughter but it had dismissed the complaint on the ground that the imputation was not made concerning the complainant and that, therefore, the complainant had no ground for complaint. Reliance was placed on the earlier ruling referred to by me. It was observed in that case after examining the facts thereof that the order passed by the Magistrate was correct. It was found that the Magistrate was right in coming to the conclusion that as a matter of fact, the imputation made by the accused was 'Musammat Begam is unchaste' and that imputation was an imputation concerning Musammat Begam, and was not an imputation concerning Mustkeem. Their Lordships found that the Magistrate had not come to the conclusion that the accused had used the expression by implication that 'Mustkeem was the father of an unchaste daughter'. Under these circumstances, it was found that the complainant was not the person who was actually defamed.

17. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the complainant has placed reliance on a number of decisions to the contrary. In the first place, reliance has bepn placed on the case of Jokhai v. State : AIR1951All585 . A learned Single Judge of this Court took the view that in a case where a false imputation of un-chastity is made against the daughter-in-law, who is living with her father-in-law, the reputation of the entire family suffers and if the husband of the woman is absent, the father-in-law is an equally aggrieved person within the meaning of Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and as such he is entitled to initiate the proceedings under Section 198 Cr. P. C.

18. Reliance has also been placed on the case of Biswanath Bubna v. King AIR 1949 Cal 567. That decision is also 'in line with the decision of this Court in the case of Jokhai : AIR1951All585 (supra). So far as I am concerned, I do not entertain any doubt that when imputations of unchastlty are made against a girl, the reputation of the father is naturally affected. There might be direct defamation and there might be indirect defamation. When an imputation is made against a particular person, that particular person is directly defamed. On the other hand, when an imputation is made, say against the daughter of a person, that person is certainly indirectly defamed. In the letter Ex. Ka. 2, Kumari Uma Rani has been described as the daughter of the present complainant. This being so, I agree with contention of the learned counsel for the complainant that the complainant was also defamed though that defamation was of an indirect nature. Nathoo Lal, therefore, was competent to file a complaint on the ground of his own defamation. It is equally clear that Nathoo Lal could not have filed the complaint as a complaint on behalf of Kumari Uma Rani unless the case was covered by the proviso to Section 198 Cr. P. C. The complaint, therefore, in spite of what has been said therein, must be treated to be a complaint on behalf of the complainant alone and not, also on behalf of Kumari Uma Rani. In the view that I take I do not find it possible to say that the complaint should have been dismissed for want of competence of the complainant.

19. The next question that arises in the case is whether the prosecution has succeeded in proving its case against the petitioner. On this part of the case, the argument of the learned counsel for therevisionist is that unless it can be held that it has been proved by the prosecution that letter Ex. Ka. 2 was the letter which was written by the petitioner, the prosecution must result in failure. It has been pointed out that in the question put.to her under Section 342 Cr. P. C., the letter Ex. Ka 2 was not put to her nor was her attention drawn to that document, The question put to her relating to that is as follows:--

'Q. Sabut ka kahna hai ke aupne Kumari Uma Rani per chafitter sam-bandhi jhoote aurob laga ker Harijan Adhikar ko pattar bhej ker Kumari Uma Rani wa Nathoo Lal ki puneh man han ki?'

The reply given by the petitioner isas follows:--

'A. Main ne pattar Harijan Adhikari ko unki Enquiry per likha tha kintoo mai ne man han ki dirishti se nahin likha wa Confidential Report bheji thi.'

20. It has been urged that no direct question, fixing the identity of the letter, was put to her in her examination under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It has further been urged that the prosecution has omitted to prove Ex. Ka 2 according to requirements of law. So far as the learned counsel for the complainant is concerned, he has urged that the statement under section 342 Cr. P. C. given by the petitioner to the question referred to above, contains admission with regard to the identity of the letter. If the identity of the letter was, therefore, admitted then according to the learned counsel for the applicant, it was fact which needed no proof under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act. I have quoted the relevant question and answer with the object of making it clear that the answer given by the petitioner, cannot be said to contain an admission with regard to the identity of the letter Ex. Ka 2. This being so, it was necessary for the prosecu-tion to adduce evidence which could constitute legal proof of Ex. Ka 2. The learned counsel for the revisionist has urged that even if it be assumed that there is an admission by the petitioner with regard to the identity of Ex. Ka 2 that was an admission made after the prosecution had examined its evidence. That admission on the part of the petitioner did not relieve the prosecution of its duty to fix the identity of the letter, said to have contained defamatory allegations, by legal evidence.

21. Reliance has been placed on thecase of Mohideen Abdul Kadir v. Emperor, (1904) ILR 27 Mad 238. His Lordship the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court relying on an earlier decision in Basant Kumar Ghatak v. Queen Empress, (1903) ILR 26 Cal 49 took the view that a gap in the evidence of the prosecutioncannot be filled by any statement made by the accused in his examination under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I am in respectful agreement with the view taken in that case and I am of opinion that even where a matter had been admitted by the accused in his or her statement under Section 342 Cr. P. C., the prosecution had to prove such facts, for want o proof of which, the prosecution must fail. I have, therefore, to examine the evidence on the record in this case in order to find out if Ex. Ka. 2 has been proved according to law or not.

22. To prove Ex. Ka. 2, the prosecution examined P. W. 3 Girja Shanker. He is a clerk of the institution of which the petitioner is the Principal. The sentence in his deposition, in proof of letter Ex. Ka. 2 is as follows:--

'Harijan Kalyan men bheji gai, dinank 29-8-63 ki chithi ko dekh ker kaha ki isper hamare Principal ke hastaksher hai yeh Exhibit Ka. 2 hai.'

23. According to the learned counsel for the complainant that statement of Girja Shanker (P. W. 3) is sufficient to prove that letter Ex. Ka 2 was signed and sent by the petitioner. The learned counsel for the revisionist has urged that this statement of Girja Shanker is no legal evidence in proof of the above fact. It has been pointed out that Girja Shankar (P. W. 3) did not state that he was acquainted with the handwriting of the petitioner, nor did he state that this particular letter was signed by the petitioner in his presence.

24. Section 47 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down as follows:--

'When the Court has to form an opinion as to the person by whom any document was written or signed, the opinion of any person acquainted with the handwriting of the person by whom it is supposed to be written or signed that it was or was not written or signed by that person, is a relevant fact.

Explanation :-- A person is said to be acquainted with the handwriting of another person when he had seen that person write, or when he has received documents purporting to be written by that person in answer to documents written by himself or under his authority and addressed to that person, or when, in the ordinary course of business, documents purporting to be written by that person have been habitually submitted to him.'

The explanation makes it clear as to when a person can be said to be acquainted with the handwriting of another person. It is only when he had seen that person write, or when he has received document purporting to be written by that person in answer to document written by Mm or under his authority and addressed to that person, or when, in theordinary course of business, documents purporting to be written by that person, have been habitually submitted to him. There is no evidence to show that P. W. 3 had seen the petitioner writing and there is no evidence to show that P. W. 3 received documents purporting to be written by the petitioner in answer to document written by himself or under his authority and addressed to that person. There is also no evidence to show that in the ordinary course of business, documents purporting to be written by the petitioner had been habitually submitted to the witness. All that we know from the materials on the record is that P. W. 3 is a clerk in the College of which the petitioner is the Principal. What was the scope of the duties of the witness and what section of the work of the College was entrusted to him, we are wholly unaware of. The mere fact that the witness is a clerk in the College concerned, cannot necessarily lead to the inference, that in the ordinary course of business, documents purporting to be written by the petitioner, have been habitually submitted to the witness. In addition to this, we further find that the witness joined that college only in July 1964 and the letter which is sought to be proved is that of August 1963. To my mind, it is, therefore, clear, that it is not a case in which it could be said that there were any existing circumstances on the basis of which it could he presumed that the witness (P. W. 3) had knowledge of the wilting of the petitioner.

25. Lengthy arguments were advanced on behalf of the parties on the question whether it was necessary for the prosecution itself to have proved that P. W. 3 Girja Shanker was acquainted with the writing of the petitioner or was it for the cross-examiner to challenge the statement of the witness by putting necessary questions in cross-examination. From a perusal of the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, it appears that opinion evidence has been made admissible in two cases. The first case when opinion evidence has been made admissible is when the opinion is of an expert witness. The reason why the opinion of that person has been permitted to be good evidence is the existence of the qualification of the witness as an expert. The other case of admissibility of opinion evidence, is where the evidence is of a person who was qualified by the existence of acquaintance or knowledge of the handwriting or signature of the person in question. The condition of the admissibility of such opinion of non-expert is the existence of acquaintance and knowledge of the handwriting of the person concerned. I am further of the view that before a party relying on particular evidence is permitted to do so, it is for him to establishthat the evidence is admissible. The nonexpert opinion evidence as I have alreadymentioned could be admissible providedit was proved that the witness was acquainted with the handwriting of theperson, whose handwriting it was alleged to be. Section 47, therefore, requirestwo things to be establishe. The firstthing required by Section 47 to be established is, that the opinion of the witnessis admissible on the basis of the qualification required by the section. Thesecond thing that is required to be established is that in the opinion of such per-son, the controversial handwriting was ofa particular person.

26. Reliance was placed on the deci-sion in the case of Pusaram v. Manmal AIR 1955 Raj 186. On the basis of that decision, the learned counsel for the complainant has urged that the statement given by P. W. 3 fully answers the requirements of Section 47 Indian Evidence Act, and it was for the cross-examiner to make enquiries with regard to the fact whether the witness was really acquainted with the handwriting of the petitioner, and if so, what was the source of that acquaintance. A perusal of the decision would go to show, that it does not support the contention that has been made by the learned counsel for the complainant. In that case, the evidence was to the effect that the witness was acquainted with the handwriting of the person, whose handwriting was questioned. After having elicited that he was acquainted with the handwriting of that person, the examination of the witness came to an end. The view taken in that case was that on such statement, it was for the cross-examiner to make enquiries as to how the witness had gained acquaintance of the writing. In the instant case, P. W. 3 did not claim to have acquaintance with the handwriting of the petitioner. The stage for cross-examination as to the mode in which he had acquired acquaintance was not reached.

27. Reliance has also been placed on a decision of the Patna High Court in the case of Mahant Jagdish Das v. Emperor, 40 Cri LJ 27 = (AIR 1938 Pat 497). In that case, it appears that the testimony of the witness went only to this extent that a certain document was in the handwriting of a particular person. The view taken by that court was that the rest of the job had to be performed by the cross-examiner and that the deposition of the witness could not be deemed inadmissible within the meaning of Section 47 Indian Evidence Act. I do not find myself in agreement with the view taken by Patna High Court. The principles laid down in Section 47 are applicable both to civil as well as criminal cases. I do not find any principle of law which would permit one, to attribute different legalevidence to Section 47, when applied to a criminal case from that which should be attributed to it, when applied to a civil case. It is a civil action, the defendanthappens to be absent and a case proceeds ex parte against him, serious question may arise whether a statement, such as one made by P. W. 3 in the instant case, is sufficient to prove that the document was written by the person in whose writing it was alleged to be. To my mind, it would be further necessary, in such an event, for the party, who relies on the document, to prove, that the witness, who was produced to prove the document, had acquaintance with the writing of the per-son concerned. No question of cross-examination would arise in that case.

28. The learned counse for the revisionist has in his turn placed reliance on the Privy Council decision in the case of Surendra Krishna Roy v. Mirza Maham-mad Syed Ali Matwali . The principle laid down in that case undoubtedly supports the proposition that it must be established affirmatively that the witness who professes to prove the writing of a person was also acquainted with the writing of that person.

29. It was next urged that even if the evidence produced by the prosecution in the instant case did not comply with the requirements of Section 47 Evidence Act, circumstantial evidence could be looked into to decide the controversy whether the document was really written or signed by the petitioner. For that proposition of law reliance has been placed on the case of Mobarik Ali Ahmad v. State of Bombay 0043/1957 : 1957CriLJ1346 . In that case, however, the document in question was a document which formed a chain of correspondence between the parties to the correspondence,

30. The person to whom that correspondence was addressed himself was produced as witness to prove the genuineness of the impugned document. There was also good evidence in that case to establish that the main document was- otherwise genuine. I have already mentioned some of the circumstances which stand In my way in accepting that the genuineness of the letter Ex. Ka 2 has been established by the circumstantial evidence in the case. Reliance has also been placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Baru Ram v. Smt. Parsani : [1959]1SCR1403 . It was observed that even if it be assumed that the genuineness of the document could be established by circumstantial evidence, there was no circumstance in that case which went to establish that fact. The question is whether the omission to prove document in accordance with the requirement of Section 47 of the Indian Evidence Act, in acase where a party examines a witness to prove the handwriting, could justify in basing a finding on consideration of the circumstantial evidence. It may be reiterated that the admission of the petitioner made in her statement under Section 342, Cr. P. C. went to this extent only that she had written letter to the Harijan Welfare Officer and what she had written to him was a confidential report If the admission is to be relied upon by the prosecution, it had to be relied upon either as a whole or not at all. The letter produced, namely, Ex. Ka 2 is certainly not a confidential report. It, therefore, cannot be urged that the statement of the petitioner that she had written a confidential report to the officer concerned amounted to an admission that Ex. Ka 2 was a letter, which was certainly not confidential, was the letter which she had written to the officer concerned.

31. The learned counsel for the complainant further urged that in any case, a comparison of the signature of thw petitioner on Ex. Ka 2 with her signature on other documents on the record can go to convince the court that the signature on Ex. Ka 2 is a genuine signature of the petitioner. The learned counsel for the complainant referred to section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act on that part of his argument. I am, however, of the opinion that Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act is not applicable to this case particularly at the revisional stage. There is no question of bringing in additional material by way of evidence at the stage of revision, Formation of the opinion by the court on the basis of comparison of the main signature with the admitted signature, certainly amounts to putting in fresh material in support of the finding arrived at by the courts below. Section 73 is a provision which occurs in Chapter V of the Indian Evidence Act which deals with the question of documentary evidence. It may have been open to the complainant at the stage when evidence was being adduced to have asked the trial court to form its own opinion with regard to the genuineness of the signature of the petitioner on Ex. Ka 2 by comparing the same with admitted signatures. At the stage of revision, I have no manner of doubt that I would not be entitled to act as required by the learned counsel for the complainant and to press Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act into service. It is not clear why, if P. W. 3 was really acquainted with the writing of the petitioner, he did not depose to that effect in the witness box. Abstaining to do so, gives rise to the suspicion that the witness did not want to take the responsibility of such statement oil oath. I have already pointed out that the letter was actually not put to the petitioner while she was interrogated under Section 342 ofthe Code of Criminal Procedure. For that omission also, I am unable to conjecture any reasonable cause. Nothing would have been easier for the prosecution than to have the letter put to the petitioner and to have it enquired from the petitioner that that particular letter was the same that she had written to the officer concerned.

32. In view of the above circumstance I am compelled to hold that the prosecution has failed to establish that letter Ex Ka 2 was written by the petitioner. Learned counsel for the complainant has agreed that in order to complete the offence of defamation within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code, it must be established that the imputation received publication. Publication therefore is the gist of the offence. So far as the instant case is concerned for reasons it is, difficult to imagine why the prosecution did not examine the person to whom the imputation was published. This person was the Harijan Social Welfare Officer, to whom the letter was addressed. The result is- that there is no evidence that the letter actually reached the hands of the addressee and further that it was read by him. I am in respectful agreement with the case of re: Bhulliram Jalam : AIR1962MP382 on which reliance has been placed by Mr. Palok Basu on behalf of the revisionist. The view taken in that case was that in order to sustain conviction under Section 500 I. P. C. it is necessary that there must be publication. If a person merely wrote defamatory words and kept the writing with him, the offence was not made out. The view of this Court starting from the Full Bench decision in the case of Queen Empress v. Taki Husain, (1884) ILR 7 All 205 (FB) has been that an imputation intimated to the person defamed by itself, did not complete the offence of defamation. That Full Bench decision was considered in a latter decision of the court in the case of Khima Nand v. Emperor, 1937 All LJ 128. Publication to a third person was deemed to be necessary. On the case of the prosecution, publication of that imputation is alleged to have been made to the Harijan Social Welfare Officer and to nobody else. So far as publication to the clerks or the inmates of the office of that officer is concerned, there is absolutely no evidence. I cannot presume that the letter would be intercepted before it reached the addressee. I have already mentioned that the officer concerned has not been produced and that there is no evidence at all on behalf of the prosecution to show that the letter was actually read by the addressee. Under these circumstances I am again constrained to hold that the prosecution has failed to prove that there was publication of the Imputation alleged to have beenmade by the petitioner against the person of Kumari Uma Rani, the daughter of the complainant.

33. I, therefore, allow the petition in revision, set aside the order passed by the trial Magistrate so also the learned Sessions Judge, convicting the petitioner for offence under Section 500, I. P. C. The sentence is also set aside. The petitioner is acquitted. Fine if paid shall be refunded.


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