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Emperor Vs. J.M. Chatterji - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Reported inAIR1933All434; 145Ind.Cas.126
AppellantEmperor
RespondentJ.M. Chatterji
Excerpt:
.....they might publish any defamatory matter they desired, so long as they also published the contradiction by the person defamed. chandola that he had information from someone he will not name which he considered reliable. it is to be noted that the apology does not clearly state that the accused are satisfied that the statements complained of are not true. 2,000 each, to appear and receive sentence when called upon at any time during the period of three years from this date, and in the meantime each of these two accused must keep the peace and be of good behaviour......persons have been convicted as follows : mr. chatterji for an article of 8th january 1931. 'the rawain shooting scandal.' pt. anant narain and mr. banerji for articles as follows: case 1. article of 1st august 1931 'the rawain shooting scandal.' case 2. (a) 22nd february 1931 'the rawain inquiry committee' (b) 19th. april 1931 'viceroy's intervention inevitable' (c) 8th june 1931 'a surprise.' case '3. (a) 27th november 1930 'a case for inquiry' (b) 11th december 1930 'a fine example' (c) 18th december 1930 'rawain inquiry in sight.'3. these articles are all concerned with the shooting in rawain, with the exception of 'a simla tea party' and 'rawain pranta main ashantosh.' the articles about the shooting at rawain are all in very similar terms. one of the earliest articles is that in.....
Judgment:

Bennet, J.

1. These four criminal appeals arise out of four criminal cases brought on the complaints of R.B. Pt. Chakradhar Jayal of the Indian Police Service on deputation to Tehri State as Dewan, for criminal defamation under Section 500, Penal Code. Each case was tried separately, but the Magistrate has written a joint judgment and the appeals have been argued together. One appeal is by Pt. Bishambhar Datt Chandola, editor, printer and publisher of a paper called the Garhwali. He has been convicted for three articles as follows: 30th August 1930 'A Simla Tea Party;' 3rd May 1930 'Rawain Pranta Main Ashantosh' and27th September 1930 'Simla Times and R.B. Pt. Chakradhar.'

2. The other three appeals concern articles in a paper called the Indian States Reformer, of which Pt. Anant: Narain is the editor and publisher and Mr. S.C. Banerji the printer. Mr.. J.M. Chatterji, a barrister, was a contributor to this paper. These persons have been convicted as follows : Mr. Chatterji for an article of 8th January 1931. 'The Rawain Shooting Scandal.' Pt. Anant Narain and Mr. Banerji for articles as follows: Case 1. Article of 1st August 1931 'The Rawain Shooting Scandal.' Case 2. (a) 22nd February 1931 'The Rawain Inquiry Committee' (b) 19th. April 1931 'Viceroy's Intervention Inevitable' (c) 8th June 1931 'A Surprise.' Case '3. (a) 27th November 1930 'A Case for Inquiry' (b) 11th December 1930 'A Fine Example' (c) 18th December 1930 'Rawain Inquiry in Sight.'

3. These articles are all concerned with the shooting in Rawain, with the exception of 'A Simla Tea Party' and 'Rawain Pranta main Ashantosh.' The articles about the shooting at Rawain are all in very similar terms. One of the earliest articles is that in the Garhwali of 27th September 1930 entitled 'Simla Times and R.B. Pt. Chakradhar Jayal.' This article sets forth that the Dewan gave an explanation of the; Rawain shooting which was published., in the Simla Times. The Dewan stated that the rebels had looted houses and burnt valuable forests, ill-treated officials and those who differed from them,, and the rebels were going to establish, their own government. The Darbar sent: the Dewan with troops, and lie called on the rebels to surrender but they replied with bullets. He had to open fire and twenty rounds were fired and five men were killed, 194 men were captured, also arms. With this statement before it, the Garhwali went on to. say:

Pt. Chakradhar Jayal did not take the lives-of rebels and dacoits but the target of his bullets were the simple and loyal subjects of Rawain who, peacefully and loyally were putting before the durbar their forest grievance.

4. It was argued that this was merely a quotation from what the people of Rawain said. But the sentence is not expressed as a quotation. It is the sentence which, comes after it which begins. 'The Rawain people say.' Further on the writer again says 'The truth, is that...'showing that he is stating, his own account, and he then says:

It is also due to his kind office that by firing at the peaceful and loyal subjects of Rawain he caused widespread discontent.

5. The article states that the Dewan should be suspended and that the Government should send a commission of inquiry into his conduct. The accused B.D. Chandola gives his explanation of this charge at pp. 273 and 274 of our copy of the appeal record. He says that he was aware of the Darbar communique on this subject which lie published in the Garhwali in the issue of 12th July 1930 previous to the publication of the article in question. He says that he received the article from a correspondent whose name he will not divulge and whose letter he will not produce. The attitude of accused is shown by the following questions and answers:

Q: What reasons had you to agree, that the lives of rebels androbbers had not been taken but the lives of simple and loyal subjects ?

A: I considered my correspondent reliable.

Q: Did you have any other material besides this in support of this allegation before publishing it?

A: Yes, I had. Pt. Chakradhar praised once the Rawain people himself in a public speech.

Q: You had two counterversions of this affair before you. What reason had you to doubt the truth of the durbar communique and to accept in preference the allegations made in Ex. 15 ?

A: I had no reason to doubt the accuracy of either I placed both versions before the public.

6. We note that the accused did not take any steps to test the truth of the story which he says he was given by a correspondent. learned Counsel for accused says that Rawain is situated on the Gongotri route in Tehri State. We consider that before any editor publishes matter of this sort which is clearly defamatory on the face of it, he should certainly take steps to have an inquiry made by some member of his staff or some reliable person on the spot, and he should only publish the matter if he considers that he has sufficient evidence available to bring himself within the provisions of one of the exceptions to Section 500, Penal Code. The defence rely on exceptions first to third and ninth. The first exception requires that the defence should prove that the imputations are true, and made for the public good. The other three exceptions require 'good faith.' Under Section 52:

Nothing is said to be done or believed in good faith which is done or believed without due care and attention.

7. Defence therefore must prove that accused used 'due care and attention.' It is certainly not using due care and attention to publish defamatory statements about a person and also to publish his denial and let the public takei their choice. learned Counsel seriously] argued for defence that accused had done all that was required of him by| law when he placed both versions before the public. We do not agree with such a proposition. If it were correct, then there would be no restraint on newspapers from the law for defamation. A newspaper is in no better a position in regard to the law for defamation than a private individual, and we cannot accept the contention of a counsel which would place newspapers in a position of privilege in which they might publish any defamatory matter they desired, so long as they also published the contradiction by the person defamed. In the present case as the statements are defamatory the onus lay on B.D. Chandola of proving that he came under one of the exceptions to Section 500.

8. We proceed to examine the evidence for defence. (After discussing the evidence the judgment proceeded). We consider that it is proved that the story of the prosecution as to the circumstances at Tilari under which the complainant opened fire is correct and that the story of the defence on this matter is false. We consider that the appellant B.D. Chandola did not exercise any care or attention whatever in putting this story into Iris paper and accordingly he is not excused under any of the exceptions to Section 500, Penal Code. Accordingly he was rightly convicted under Section 500, Penal Code. The sentence on this count is one year's simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500 or in default four months simple imprisonment. We do not think this sentence at all excessive in view of the gravity of the imputations against complainant. The object of the accused was to have the complainant suspended and disgraced and eventually dismissed from his post as Dewan. (After considering two articles, the judgment proceeded). In the article of 13th December 1930 'The Rawain Shooting Scandal,' it is stated that the Dewan must be kept out of the State during the inquiry as he is widely believed to have been instrumental in bringing it about, and he is the alleged offender. The evidence in all the cases was the same. We consider that appellants Anant Narain and S.C. Banerji have been rightly convicted under Section 500, Penal Code. As regards the latter, it was urged that as printer he did not know what was being printed. A printer is liable under the law for defa-matory matter printed by him. He also says that as his uncle Mr. S.C. Chaterji was practically the owner of the paper, Indian States Reformer, he felt that his uncle would safeguard his interests. The accused printer is a member of the Garhwali union, so it is not probable that he was ignorant of the nature of the articles which were, being printed. Pt. Anant Narain says that as editor he published the various articles on the Rawain shooting,, with his comments. His story was the same as that of B.D. Chandola that he had information from someone he will not name which he considered reliable. He does not say that he took any steps to test the information by inquiry or otherwise. He says that he did not know that the statements would defame complainant. The evidence is the same in all the cases, and the deence took the same line of argument.

9. We consider for the same reasons as in the case of B.D. Chandola that these two accused are guilty on each of the counts on which they have been convicted. The sentences passed on Pt. Anant Narain are not severe. In case 1, he has been sentenced to fine of Rs. 200 or in deault 2 months' simple imprisonment. In case 2, he has three concurrent sentences of simple imprisonment the longest being one year, and he has been fined Rs. 200 and Rupees 400. Incase 3, thereare three concurrent sentences of simple imprisonment the longest being one year and there is Rs. 400 fine. (After considering the remaining articles, the judgment proceeded). The cases of the three appellants Anant Narain, S.C. Banerji and B.D. Chandola on appeal were completed on 10th' March, and in the case of J.M. Chatterji the appeal was heard and the revision only was postponed to 14th March for the reply on behalf of the accused to the argument of the learned Government Advocate in the application for revision for enhancement. When we took our seats on 14th March, an application was made on behalf of J.M. Chatterji and S.C. Banerji to the effect that:

I tender whole-hearted and unqualified apology ior self and on behalf of my nephew, Mr.S.C. Banerji for all the articles that form the subject of defamation against Dowan Sahib and I honestly feel that I misread the whole situation,etc. etc.

10. The complainant and these two accused have made an application to the Court that for reasons stated in this apology the cases against Mr. Chatterji and Mr. S.C. Banerji may be dropped. It is to be noted that the apology does not clearly state that the accused are_ satisfied that the statements complained of are not true. In regard to the question of compromise Section 345(5), Criminal P.C., lays down that when the accused have been convicted and an appeal is pending no composition for the offence shall be allowed without the leave of the Court before which the appeal is to be heard. The language of this section 'the Court before which the appeal is to be heard' indicates that the compromise has been made at too late a stage because the appeals have been heard on 10th March and there is now only pending the reply to the application for enhancement in the case of Chatterji. The compromise therefore is not one which comes within the provisions of Section 345, Criminal P.C., but in view of what the complainant has stated in the application for compromise we consider that this is a case in which we may take action under Section 562, Criminal P.C., in regard to these two accused. We have considered the case of Mr. Chatterji in his appeal, and we have come to the conclusion that no distinction can be drawn between his case and that of the other appellants, and that he was rightly convicted by the Magistrate for the article entitled the 'Rawain Shooting Scandal.'

11. Accordingly in regard to these two accused the order of this Court is that we uphold the convictions of the Magistrate in regard to these two accused, but we do not pass sentence on these two accused, and we direct that these two accused enter into a bond in the case of Banerji for Rs. 1,000 with two sureties for Rs. 1,000 each, and in the case of Chatterji for Rs. 2,000 with two sureties for Rs. 2,000 each, to appear and receive sentence when called upon at any time during the period of three years from this date, and in the meantime each of these two accused must keep the peace and be of good behaviour. In particular it will be a breach of the bond if either of the accused during the period of three years commits any defamation of the complainant. The sentences of the Magistrate on these two accused are therefore suspended and they need not surrender to their bail. The securities will be filed in the Court of the Joint Magistrate of Dehra Dun within the period of one month from today, and will be to the satisfaction of the Magistrate. In regard to the other two accused persons, Anant Narain and B.D. Chandola, for the reasons already stated in our judgment, we dismiss their appeals, with the exception noted in the case of B.D. Chandola. These two accused therefore will surrender to their bail and undergo the rest of the sentences.


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