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Paras Dass Son of Jugal Kishore Vs. Paras Dass Son of Baij Nath - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal No. 81D of 1966
Judge
Reported in5(1969)DLT241
ActsIndian Penal code, 1860 - Sections 499
AppellantParas Dass Son of Jugal Kishore
RespondentParas Dass Son of Baij Nath
Advocates: Keshav Dayal,; V.D. Misra and; D.R. Seth, Advs
Excerpt:
.....rs. -it is nto defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the impu- tation should be made or published. whether or nto it is for the public good is a question of fact. - it is nto defamation to make an imputation on the character of antoher provided that the imputation be made in good faith for the prtoection of the interests of the person making it, or of any toher person, or for the public good. *according to the learned counsel, the publication of these pamphlets was for the public good. the only public good, however, which the ingenuity of the learned counsel could think of was that people must be forewarded against a person who cheats the income-tax department by evading income-tax. but except for the bald assertion, my..........is nto defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the impu- tation should be made or published. whether or nto it is for the public good is a question of fact. * * * * ninth exception.- it is nto defamation to make an imputation on the character of antoher provided that the imputation be made in good faith for the prtoection of the interests of the person making it, or of any toher person, or for the public good. * * * * according to the learned counsel, the publication of these pamphlets was for the public good. the only public good, however, which the ingenuity of the learned counsel could think of was that people must be forewarded against a person who cheats the income-tax department by evading income-tax. but except.....
Judgment:

I.D. Dua, J.

(1) In this criminal revision, the accused Shri Paras Dass son of Shri Baij Nath challenges the order of the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi, dated 30th November, 1965 affirming on appeal the order of his conviction made by Shri B. K. Malhtora, Magistrate 1st Class, Delhi, dated 18th August, 1965 convic- ting him of an offence under section 500, I. P. C. and sentencing him to undergo four months' simple imprisonment to two counts, the senten- ces to run concurrently. The complainant, it may be pointed out, is also a man of the same name, Shri Paras Dass, though his' fathers' name is Shri Jugal Kishore. The complaint was instituted on 21st March, 1963 (more than five years ago) and after an enquiry under sec- corporation 202, Cr. P. C., the accused was summoned under section 500, I P.C. According to the complaint, the accused was in the service of the comp- lanant as a Munim for about three or four months, a short time prior to the institution of the complaint. He was dismissed from service by the complanant because he was found incompetent and dishonest. After his'dismissal, the accused started making false complaints against the complainant to the Income-tax Department, as a result of which a raid was organized by the said department, but ntohing incriminating was found on such search. The accused is also alleged to have distributed on 19th March, 1963 pamphlets marked Exhibits P. 2 and P. 3 in Parade ground, Delhi on the occasion of Rishab Jayanti Mela and also at the red temple at Delhi. On 20th March, 1963, the accused is again alleged to have distributed pamphlets of the same kind in the Income-tax Depa- rtment, when he was caught by Shri N. H. Naqvi, Director of Inspection (Investigation). The contents of the pamphlets are stated to be highly defamatory and to have brought the complainant into hatred and to have lowered his prestige.

(2) The accused who denied the charge, was tried in accordance with law and after going through the entire evidence, the learned Magis- trate trying the accused came to the conclusion that the accused had distribued the pamphlets in question. He also came to the conclusion that the pamphlets were defamatory per se. The witnesses for the com- plainant, as is clear from the order of the trial Court, had also advised the accused nto to distribute the pamphlets, but the accused replied that he wanted to extract money out of the complainant. As a matter of fact; according to the trial Court, even a defense witness (D. W. 1) exa- mined by the accused supported the contention of the prosecution wit- nesses on this point. Holding the accused guilty for distributing the pamphlets on 19th March, 1963 in the public meeting and also on 20th March, 1963 in the Income-tax Department, the learned Magistrate con- victed him as mentioned earlier.

(3) On appeal, the learned Additional Sessions Judge in a fairly detailed and well-reasoned order upheld the conviction, but inlieu of imprisonment, he awarded to the accused the sentence of fine to the extent of Rs. 500.00. The revision petition filed by the complainant for enhancement of the sentence was, however, dismissed.

(4) Before me, on revision, Shri Keshav Dayal, the learned counsel for the accused, has only attempted to show that his case falls within Exception No. 1 and Exception No. 9 to section 499, of the Indian Penal Code. I may at this stage read section 499 and these Exceptions :-

'499.Whoever by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any im- putation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the repu- tation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter (xcep- ted, to defame that person. Explanationn 1.-It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased person, if the imputation would harm the reputation of that-person if living, and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or toher near relatives. Explanationn 2.-It may amonnt to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such Explanationn 3 -An imputation in the form of an alternative or ex- pressed ironically, may amount to defamation. Explanationn 4.-No imputation is slid to harm a person's reputa- tion, unless that imputation directly or indirectly in the estimation of tohers, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or low- ers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowe's the credit of that person, or causes it to he believed that the body of that person is in. a ltoh some state, or in a state, generally con-' sidered as disgraceful. First Exception.-It is nto defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the impu- tation should be made or published. Whether or nto it is for the public good is a question of fact. * * * * Ninth Exception.- It is nto defamation to make an imputation on the character of antoher provided that the imputation be made in good faith for the prtoection of the interests of the person making it, or of any toher person, or for the public good. * * * * According to the learned counsel, the publication of these pamphlets was for the public good. The only public good, however, which the ingenuity of the learned counsel could think of was that people must be forewarded against a person who cheats the Income-tax Department by evading income-tax. But except for the bald assertion, my attention has nto been drawn to any precedent or principle or to any statutory provision which would show that the publication of the imputations in question were for the public good.'

(5) The essence of the offence of defamation indisputably consists in its tendency to cause that description of pain which is felt by a per- son who knows himself to be the object of the unfavorable sentiments of his fellow creatures and those inconveniences to which a person, who is the object of such unfavorable sentiments, is exposed. The right of a person to the unpaired possession of his reputation and good name is recognised by law and it seems to me to be the inherent right of every- one to have his reputation preserved inviolated. A man's reputation is, in a way, his property and may, from one point of view, be considered to be more valuable than any toher form of property. Reputation de- pends on opinion and opinion on communication of thought and infor- mation from one to antoher. But this right has sometimes to give way. in favor of and in defense to the public good because on such occasions the individual's interests are treated as of Lesser weight in the scale of social values and the interests of the public good are given greater pro- tection. Exceptions I and 9 to section 499, Indian Penal Code , as indeed, in a general way, all Exceptions, appear to me to have been inspired by a desire to strike a just and equitable balance between the right of an individual to his fame and the general public good. The injury to the feelings of the, individual must in such cases produce a compensating advantage to the public. In so far as Exception 9 is concerned, the accused person has to show that he made or published 'the imputation in 'good faith for the prtoection of the interests of the person making it or of any , per- son or for the public good. It is nto even pretended on [behalf of the ' accused that his interest or the interest of any toher person required prtoection in this case. The Court in this case is only confined to the enquiry whether the imputation was published in good faith for the public good. Whether or nto an accused person has acted in good faith under this Exception, has to be considered on the facts and circumstan- ces of each case and it is neither possible nor desirable to lay down any rigid rule or test which would fit all conceivable contingencies as a straigl.t jacket. What has to be kept in view is the nature of the impu- tation made or published the circumstance? under which it came to be made or published ; the person to whom it is made or published ; the status of the person making or publishing the imputation ; the presence or toherwise of malice in his mind at the time he did so and toher simi- lar relevant factors. Unnecessary repetition of the publication has also to be taken into account. The question of good faith, it must be borne in mind is normally a question of fact, though sometimes in a given, case it may be regarded as a mixed question of law and fact. Adverting to Exception No. 1, here again, it is for the accused to show that the imputation made or published was true and for the public good and the question of public good has been expressly stated by the Legislature to be a question of fact. The question of public good, as it concerns us, has, in my view, to be considered from the point of view of the good of the general public as contra-distinguished from that of an individual. The learned counsel for the petitioner before me has nto been able to show as to how the wide and repeated publication in question was desi- gned to serve the good of the general public at large to whom the pam- phelets were indiscriminately distributed more than once. It is argued that the complainant was the President of the Aggarwal Samaj, Delhi, and, thereforee, the members of that Samaj were desired by the accused to be informed about the defects of character in the complainant. Whe- ther or nto this would bring the plea of the accused within 'the fold of Exception I and 9, the indiscriminate distribution of the pamphlets in question to all and sundry, more than once in my view, cannto possibly be justified under the said Exceptions and the learned counsel for the accused has nto been able to put for the any cogent ground for justifying such distribution.

(6) I have designedly nto reproduced the offending material because the question of their being defamatory per se has nto been re-agitated or canvassed in this Court and the petitioner's contention has been con- fined only to the attempt to bring them within the aforesaid Exceptions.

(7) Of course the petitioner's learned counsel has submitted that the imputations are true, but truth alone assuming the counsel to be right- is nto conclusive. At this stage, I consider it proper to point out that the general impression which appears normally to be entertained by some laymen in this country that truth alone is by itself a complete and conclusive justification for persons to go about giving indiscrimi- nate publicity to defamatory statements or imputations regarding tohe- rs, is unfounded and a person so doing runs a grave risk and cannto, on this misconceived ntoion, alone avoid facing the legal consequences. Indiscriminate publication of defamatory matter inspired by malice for serving selfish purposes or satisfying ignoble instincts may land one in great difficulties, because prima fade, this is vocative of the defamed person's valuable rights, which the publishers, under the influence of uncontrolled zeal and excessive raw matter in them, are apt to forget.

(8) It the case in hand, malice in widely distributing the pamphlets in question js clearly established on the record and the language used in the pamphlets is an example of exceeding all limits of decency expected to be observed in civilized focieties. The accused is lucky in having his sentence reduced by the lower Appellate Court.

(9) For all the foregoing reasons, this revision is dismissed.


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