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K.R. Malkani and anr. Vs. State and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal No. 190 of 1971
Judge
Reported inILR1972Delhi393
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 505
AppellantK.R. Malkani and anr.
RespondentState and anr.
Advocates: K.L. Sharma and; D.R. Sethi, Advs
Excerpt:
.....that in items 6, 7, 8 and 9 like many other items the said witness we concerned with the post-mortem examinations in respect of the unidentified females whom he described as muslim females. the determination of religion on the basis of the testimony, reproduced above, would be unsafe. ' (25) it would be unsafe on the basis of such testimony to conclude that none of the females examined by public witness 2 had been subjected to sexual intercourse. - 505.whoever makes, published or circulates any statement, rumour or report,-(a) with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, any officer, soldier, sailor or airman in the army, navy or air force of india to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such; they are to live day by day in a well-informed atmosphere. to..........were other female deaths as a result of the riots besides the 36 on whose bodies i conducted the postmortem.(15) through the testimony of public witness 2 the prosecution succeeded in establishing that he had not carried out post-mortem examinations on three female bodies but had instead carried them out on 36 female bodies. in the earlier part of his statement public witness 2 had made an averment after averment regarding the religion of the particular females whose post-mortem examination, he had carried out. in item no. 1 in his statement it is recorded :- 'i conducted the post-mortem examination on the unidentified dead body of a mohammedan female, aged 20 years and found the following injuries. (16) similar depositions are contained elsewhere in his statement where the female is.....
Judgment:

Pritam Singh Safeer, J.

(1) This petition is urged against the order dated the 15th of March, 1971, made by the court below while disposing of Criminal Revision No. 91 of 1969. The order discloses a complete disregard on the part of the Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi, of the impugned publication as well as the evidence of Dr. R. S. Parshad P.W. 2. It was the elementary duty of the court concerned with the judicial determination of the fate of the petition pending before it to go deeply into the publication, a portion whereof has been exhibited as X/l and to go thoroughly through the evidence of Dr. R.B. Parshad P.W. 2. That is emphasised for the reason that P. W. I as such did no prove anything beyond this that while Shri Brij Bhushan was the Printer and Publisher of the Weekly, Shri K. R. Malkani was the Editor according to the declaration filled by Shri Brij Bhushan on 7th July 1967. It was the testimony of Public Witness 2 which the prosecution was solely depending upon. I have gone through the entire statement of that witness. I am constrained to observe that the impugned order does not disclose any intimate knowledge of the statement of Public Witness 2.

(2) In order to appreciate whether the petitioners committed or not any offence within clause (c) of section 505 of the Indian Penal Code. it is necessary to reproduce the entire publication. The dispatch with which the case is concerned is under the heading 'THE Bitter Truth About RANCHI'. It is elementary that Ranchi is an important city and the publication is confined to the portion marked as Exhibit X/l. It is :-

'THE Bitter Truth About Ranchi . . . . Our Ranchi Correspondent

(3) The riots which began in Ranchi on August 22.... and continued for nearly four days should open the eyes of all patriotic people of India and of the Central and State Governments.

(4) Ranchi is a summer capital of Bihar and a growing industrial city. It has become a centre of Pakistani agents and left Communists have also started. . . .their activities here in recent months. The Heavy Engineering Corporation-in which several thousand employees work-is a Government of India Undertaking. Nearly Rs. 100 crores are invested in this concern. It is situated in Hatia, a suburb of Ranchi.

GEN.Habibullah's Witches' Cauldron.

(5) When Major General Habibullah was Managing Director of the Corporation, several hundred such persons were employed in the Corporation who are more loyal to Pakistan than to India. These pro-Pakistani employees engineered a huge fire in the Hatia project as a result of which machinery worth Rs. 50 lakhs which had been purchased from Russia for expansion of the Heavy Engineering Corporation-was destroyed. Pandit Nehru got the whole affair hushed up just to save Habibullah. But another fire was started a few months later and again valuable machinery worth Rs. 20 lakhs was burnt. There was an enquiry and Habibullah was made to resign.

Red Salute to Urdu!

(6) When the new Chairman and Managing Director took charge they tried to improve matters but the trouble spots remained and the situation continued to be explosive. One month back Left Communists and the pro-Pakistani elements took out a joint procession shouting slogans like

'URDU Ko Lal SALAM'! 'Chairman Mao Zindabad', 'Pakistan Zindabad' and 'Urdu Ko Lal Salam' (Red Salute to Urdu). They carried posters of Mao Tse-tung and Ayub^Khan. The people of Ranchi resented the slogans raised in the procession. There was commotion in the town but it subsided.

(7) On August 20, a highly inflammatory pamphlet was distributed by a person calling himself Secretary of Congress Youth Front. This person was none else than Vijay Ranjan, a close associate of a former Congress Minister. One Amant Ail Mlc, now under arrest, is the leader of Congress party in Ranchi. -He organized a secret meeting of Pakistani and Communist element and disgruntled Congressmen to chalk out a programme to teach a lesson to the coalition government of Bihar.

First Raped And Then Killed On August 22 Shri Ashok Mehta and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. the two Central Ministers, arrived in Ranchi to meet the Governor and the Chief Minister of Bihar. At about 2 p.m. a small group of school children numbering about sixty, all aged between 12 and 16, took out a procession protesting against the Urdu Bill which has been introduced in the Bihar Assembly by a Muslim Congress Mla to make Urdu the Second Language of Bihar.

(8) As soon as the procession reached near a mosque and an Urdu Library on the Main Road, brickbats and soda water bottles were thrown on the students from the mosque and the library. The small boys who were peaceful and unarmed. ran helter and skelter. And within three hours, 38 persons including three women belonging to the so-called majority community-were stabbed to death. The post-mortem in the hospital showed that the women had been first raped and then killed!

(9) The dead bodies were recovered from areas which are predominantly inhabited by the so-called minority community, by the military and the police who were immediately called to control the situation. Arms And Ammunition Recovered

(10) The army and the police officers did good work. They searched a large number of houses and recovered huge quantities of arms, ammunition explosives, crude bombs, spears and swords from the houses of the so-called minority community. Some of the bombs were so powerful that they could destroy an entire area if exploded. Army officers called experts to destroy these bombs.

(11) The riot spread to the suburbs and stabbing continued for four days resulting in the death of nearly 150 persons of both communities. But it is quite clear that the riot was started by pro-Pakistani and pro-Chinese elements. PINDI-PEKING Axis At Work

(12) The riot is now over and Ranchi has returned to normal. A judicial probe has been ordered to inquire into the causes of the riots. It will be done by a High Court Judge. But the tragedy is that even Central Government ministers have made it a political issue and are trying to blame the United Front Government of Bihar as well Jana Sangh for fanning trouble simply because the Ranchi Assembly seat was won by Jana Sangh in the last general election by giving a crushing defeat to the Congress and the Communists. The evidence is quite clear that pro-Pakistani and Communist elements combined to create the riot with the active support of local Congress leaders like Amanat Ali to discredit the Coalition Ministry of Bihar.

(13) As is visible from the publication, reproduced above, it emanated from a correspondent. The correspondent described in the publication is : 'Our Ranchi Correspondent'. No probe has been made in the course of this litigation to question the authenticity of the assertion as to whether the Organizer-weekly had or not any specified person as its correspondent in Ranchi. As the publication discloses, the Government of India had Heavy Engineering Corporation in Ranchi. At one time Major General Habibullah was the Managing Director of the Corporation. The publication details the happenings leading up to his resignation. It then discloses that at one time the Left Communists and the pro-Pakistani elements took out a joint procession in Ranchi shouting slogans mentioned in the publication. Detailing the fact that Shri Ashok Mehta and Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the two Central Ministers, had visited Ranchi on August 22, 1967, the publication proceeds to report regarding the riots. The portion marked as X is:-

'AS soon as the procession reached near a mosque and an Urdu Library on the Main Road brickbats and soda water bottles were thrown on the students from the mosque and the library. The small boys who were peaceful and unarmed, ran helter and skelter. And within three hours, 38 persons- including three women belonging to the so-called majority community -were stabbed to death. The post mortem in the hospital showed that the women had been first raped and then killed!'

(14) The last sentence in the quotation marked X. reproduced above, was exhibited as X/l. It was necessary lor the court below to notice that the publication stated that 38 persons belonging to the so-called majority community had been stabbed to death within three hours and that out of them three were the women whose post-mortem examinations had revealed that they had been subjected to rape before being done to death. Public Witness 2 examined by the prosecution made a detailed .statement regarding the above-mentioned examinations carried out by him on various days and then in a part of his cross-examination deposed:-

'I cannot say if there were other female deaths as a result of the riots besides the 36 on whose bodies I conducted the postmortem.

(15) Through the testimony of Public Witness 2 the prosecution succeeded in establishing that he had not carried out post-mortem examinations on three female bodies but had instead carried them out on 36 female bodies. In the earlier part of his statement Public Witness 2 had made an averment after averment regarding the religion of the particular females whose post-mortem examination, he had carried out. In item No. 1 in his statement it is recorded :-

'I conducted the post-mortem examination on the unidentified dead body of a Mohammedan female, aged 20 years and found the following injuries.

(16) Similar depositions are contained elsewhere in his statement where the female is mentioned as a Muslim female. In item 4 of his examination he stated:-

'ON23rd August, 1967, I held the post-mortem examination on an unidentified female, aged 30 years and found the following injuries'

(17) He could not give her religion. Item No. 6 in his deposition states :-

'I held the post-mortem examination on the unidentified Muslim female aged 15 years.'

Item No. 7 similarly describes that the female was a Muslim.

(18) It is significant that in items 6, 7, 8 and 9 like many other items the said witness we concerned with the post-mortem examinations in respect of the unidentified females whom he described as Muslim females. It is in item No. 10 that the name of the female is given. In item No. Ii also the name of the female is given. Item No. 13 discloses the deposition :-

'ON27-8-67 I held the post-mortem examination on unidentified female, 20 years old'. Along with item 4, item 13 works out that the two females concerned in those post-mortem examinations were such that the doctor could not give their religions. Item 15 pertinently discloses a similar situation The post-mortem examination in that case was also in respect of an unidentified female. whose religion the doctor could not give. The same is true of item 16. Multiplication of these instances is. however, not necessary in the face of the depositions made by the said witness in the course of his cross-examination. Having carried out the post-mortem examination on 36 female bodies, he deposed :- 'I did not know personally any of the above 36 persons on whose bodies, I had conducted post-mortem examination. None of these 36 persons were identified by any public person before me. If any person identifies a particular body. the name of that person is mentioned in the post-mortem register. I did not know personally any of the identifying police officers. Said voluntarily, some of them had come from different parts of the States.'

(19) Proceeding further in his cross-examination Public Witness 2 deposed:-

'I have written the religion of the persons on whose bodies I conducted the post mortem on the basis of the police reports and my personal verification. I made personal verification in the case of Muslim males only and not in the case of females as this was not possible. In the case of females wherever I have mentioned the religion, I have done so exclusively on the basis of the police reports. I had absolutely no personal knowledge about the religion of the deceased females whose post-mortems I had conducted.'

(20) In a later part the witness stated ;-

'IT is not medically possible to tell the religion of any female from an examination of her body or physical characteristics.'

(21) On the foregoing evidence it could not have been concluded as to how many actually were the Muslim females and how many of them were Hindu females. The determination of religion on the basis of the testimony, reproduced above, would be unsafe. If that part of the publication, which has been marked X and which contains Exhibit X/l is attended to then it is stated therein that 38 persons including three women were stabbed within three hours. The expression 'including' employed in the particular sentence in the publication arithmetically indicates that out of 38 persons 35 were males and 3 were females. The portion marked X/l pertaining to those three women is:-

'THE post-mortem in the hospital showed that the women had been first raped and then killed.'

(22) Exhibit X/1 contains two assertions. One of them is uncontroverter and that is that the women had been killed.

(23) The question is as to whether the assertion that they had been raped before being killed was true or not and whether it could have been believed as truthful or not. Public Witness 2 asserted that the post-mortem examinations so carried out by him did not reveal sexual assaults. He stated in a part of his cross-examination :-

'I examined the deceased bodies fully but because I did not find any indication of sexual assault. I did not mention it in the report'.

(24) The words 'sexual assault' in themselves have a curious element. A repulsive sexual act in known cases has been resisted only up to some stage. Apart from that it is not appreciated as to what is the real significance of the deposition that he did not find any indication of sexual assault. The witness was subjected to further cross-examination in respect of his foregoing statement. He then stated :-

'IT is not necessary that injuries should be caused when any female is sexually assaulted. But when there is excessive disparity between the male and female organ and there is excessive resistance on the part of the female the injuries on private parts and other parts of the body become possible as a result of sexual assault.'

(25) It would be unsafe on the basis of such testimony to conclude that none of the females examined by Public Witness 2 had been subjected to sexual intercourse. It cannot be ruled out that some source which the correspondent in Ranchi contacted gave him the information that the females belonging to the 'so-called majority community' had been subjected to sexual misbehavior before being killed. Believing that as true he mentioned it in a dispatch which [contained many other things besides that information. The correspondent fairly stated in the closing part of his dispatch that about 150 persons belonging to both the communities had been killed. The publication in which Exhibit X/l appears gives an account of 'Truth about Ranchi' and is by no means an 'article'.

(26) The point for determination is as to whether the prosecution has succeeded in bringing home any guilt to the petitioners within the meaning of section 505 of the Indian Penal Code:-

'505.Whoever makes, published or circulates any statement, rumour or report,- (a) with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, any officer, soldier, sailor or airman in the Army, Navy or Air Force of India to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such; or (b) with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity; or (c) with intent to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community; shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine, or with both. Exception. It does not amount to an offence, within the meaning of this section, when the person making, publishing or circulating any such statement, rumour or report, has reasonable grounds for believing that such statement, rumour or report is true and makes, publishes or circulates it without any such intent as aforesaid.

(27) It is clause (c) on which the prosecution bases itseif. The said clause is in two parts. The first one is covered by the words 'with intent to incite'. If an accused person makes, published or circulates any statement, rumour or report with the intent envisaged in the opening part of clause (c) then he would invite its application. The second part of that clause is confined to the making, publishing or circulating of any statement, rumour or report which may be likely to incite any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community. Clauses (a), (b) and (c) of the section are subject to the exception. Covering all that precedes it, the exception is to the effect that there will be no offence within the meaning of section 505 when the person making, publishing or circulating any such statement, rumour or report, has reasonable grounds for believing that such statement, rumour or report is true and makes, publishes or circulates it without any such intent which may be criminal within section 505. Even where the case is concerned with the second part of clause (c) if it becomes visible that the publication had the justification which could be founded on the exception then no case would be made out. The statement of Public Witness 2 discloses a horrible state of affairs. He alone had carried out the post-mortem examinations in respect of 36 females. In a part of his cross-examination he had to admit :-

'Icannot say if there were other female deaths as a result of the riots besides the 36 on whose bodies 1 conducted the post-mortem.

(28) It stands proved that during the riots from 22nd August, 1967, to 4th September, 1967, there were more than 36 female deaths in Ranchi. Their exact number remains unknown. If in respect of such a horrible rioting a newspaper dispatch has uttered the groans under the Caption 'The Bitter Truth About Ranchi' then it has merely performed its duty. I am not persuaded that any offence, considering the scope of the exception contained in section 505 of the Indian Penal Code, stands proved against the petitioners. If the correspondent in Ranchi sent the dispatch, which is contained in the issue of the Organiser dated 10th September, 1967, then the petitioners had the justification to believe in its truth and committed no offence by publishing it. It is the right of every citizen to know the truth and it is the privilege of any person where he has reasonable grounds for believing that the statement, rumour or report which he is going to publish is true to publish the same. The citizens in this country are not to he thrown into the dark dungeon of ambiguity. They are to live day by day in a well-informed atmosphere. To inculcate real patriotism in the citizens of this country it is essential that they should be appraised of true facts and they should be conversant with true happenings to draw their own conclusions and to make up their minds as to how they can best serve the country. The petition is accepted and the charge is quashed.


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