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Ganesh Anand Chela Vs. Swami Divyanand - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Miscellaneous (Main) Appeal No. 249 of 1979
Judge
Reported in1980CriLJ1036; 17(1980)DLT492; 1980RLR265
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1973 - Sections 482; Indian Penal code, 1860 - Sections 500
AppellantGanesh Anand Chela
RespondentSwami Divyanand
Advocates: K.K. Sud and; N.K. Jaggi, Advs
Cases Referred(Chhotalal Lallubhai v. Nathabhai Bechar and
Excerpt:
.....procedure code - sections 482, 197, 198 & 199--in a prosecution for defamation, who is the 'person aggrieved'--indian penal code, section 500.; the applicant was summoned by the metropolitan magistrate for an alleged offence under section 500 of the indian penal code, on a complaint by a 'chela' of a religious head of an ashram in delhi. in the complaint it was alleged that the applicant had made malicious statements both verbal and in writing against the head of the ashram and a woman follower in order to defame them and with a view to appropriate the guru's property. the applicants sought a discharge on the ground that the respondent was not a 'person aggrieved' within the meaning of section 199 of the code of criminal procedure. the magistrate held that he respondent was a..........own once guru which is forbidden by dharama. (b) he imputes immoral character to the complainant's guru swami pumanand ji by making false accusation of illicit relations with one shrimati pritma devi who is a woman of about 60 years of age and is an old follower of swami pumanand ji and has married sons and is a respectable civilian lady. he repeatedly gives publication to this imputation by words of mouth and has also got obscene photographs prepared of the guru ji and shrimati pritma devi and shows them to the public in delhi as well as to the sadhus and thus injure the reputation of the guru. the sect and the sanyasis including the complainant who are laughed at by the receivers of the imputation. she is a very learned woman and a renowned speaker and has many times delegated.....
Judgment:

Charanjit Talwar, J.

(1) The applicant herein, Ganesha Nand Chela, was summoned by Mr. S. M. Gupta, Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, by his order dated May 29, 1976, for an offence under Section 500, Indian Penal Code, on a complaint filed by Swami Divyanand (respondent herein).

(2) The complainant's case was that he was a Sanyasi and disciple of Swami Purna Nand Jt Maharaj. His Guru owned an Ashram known as Sri Krishna Ashram in Delhi. and three other Ashrams situate in Haridwar, Ahmedabad etc. According to the complainant, the accused Ganesha Nand had also been a chela (disciple) of his Guru but he had been removed from the chelaship in the year 1974. It was alleged that With a view to grab the property of the Guru, the accused had made take and malicious accusations against the said Guru and his Dharam, and also against one Shrimati Pritma Devi. The gravamen of the allegations are contained in paragraph 4 of the complaint which reads asunder :

'4.That in order to defame the Guru and his Dharam he has done many acts by mouth and in writing and some of them are detailed as under as they are patent falsehood done with malice and makes the Dharam and Guru and his chelas including the complainant a subject of contempt and ridicule amongst the Sanyasis as well as among the right thinking members of the society. ' (a) He gave a statement through affidavit in Roorkee Court to the effect that Swami Purnanand Ji Maharaj worships we like other Mahatmas although he was himself once a chela of Shri Pumanand Ji. How can a Guru worship his chela In the eyes of the sanyasis and the casual public his vistically degrades the Guru and also speaks these words every now and then, and thus condemns and humiliate his own once Guru which is forbidden by Dharama. (b) He imputes immoral character to the complainant's Guru Swami Pumanand Ji by making false accusation of illicit relations with one Shrimati Pritma Devi who is a woman of about 60 years of age and is an old follower of Swami Pumanand Ji and has married sons and is a respectable civilian lady. He repeatedly gives publication to this imputation by words of mouth and has also got obscene photographs prepared of the Guru Ji and Shrimati Pritma Devi and shows them to the public in Delhi as well as to the Sadhus and thus injure the reputation of the Guru. the sect and the Sanyasis including the complainant who are laughed at by the receivers of the imputation. She is a very learned woman and a renowned speaker and has many times delegated Ganeshanand in declamation contest and won many honours and prizes from various organisations. Because of jealously and illwill and malice he makes, propagates this false accusation. He started this imputation after his removal from the chelaship and from the honour of Mahamandleshwar in April, 1974. (c) He also accused the Guru of squandering his property after this lady and also imputes inchastity and immoral character to her and also imputes that the Guru has stopped practicing religion and is just a wordly manner having illicit connections with Shmt. Pritma Devi. (d) He got some photographs prepared through one Shri Khosla from Mehta Photographers Saddar Bazar. Delhi, which have no relation to reality or truth but are simply got prepared with a view to defame and spoil the image of the Guru as well as his chelas among it the public and the priests.'

(3) On the basis of the evidence led by the complainant despondent herein); the learned Magistrate came to the conclusion that a prima-facie case had been made out against the petitioner and, as noticed above, summoned him to stand his trial for an offence under Section 500, Indian Penal Code. After appearing, the accused filed an application on July 12, 1978 seeking discharge on the grounds that the complaint was not maintainable as the complainant was not the 'person aggrieved' within the ambit of Section 199 of the Cods of ' Criminal Procedure and further that the allegations were groundless.

(4) The learned Magistrate vide his detailed order dated March 19, 1979, dismissed the application holding that from the facts disclosed in the complaint the complainant was the aggrieved person within the meaning of Section 199 of the Code. and that in any case the accused not having challenged the legality of the earlier order summoning him, the Court had no jurisdiction to review that order. On merits of the accusations, it was observed that Rt that stage when the complainant had still to lead evidence, it was not open to the accused to challenge the same.

(5) In this application moved under Section 482 of the Code, the applicant (accused) is seeking quashing of the complaint, inter-alia, on the ground that cognizance of the offence under Section 500, Indian Penal Code. could not be taken as the complainant was not an aggrieved person within the ambit of Section 199 of the Code of Crirninal Procedure

(6) Mr. K. K. Sud, learned counsel for the applicant, has raised the following contentions in support of the plea for quashing of the complaint :

(1)Swami Divyanand, the complainant, according to his own showing in the complaint and as per the finding of the learned Magistrate in the impugned order, had not been personally defamed and, thereforee, was not the aggrieved person as postulated under Section 199 of the Code. (2) That even if it is held that there are defamatory imputations against Sri Krishna Ashram in Delhi or against three other Ashrams belonging to the said Purnanand ji Manaraj, the defamation is of an indefinite, indeterminate collection of persons or class of persons and, thereforee, the present complaint by Swami Divyanand is not maintainable. (3) That the allegations do not make out case for summoning the applicant under Section 500, Indian Penal Code.

(7) Mr. Sud, in support of his first submission, has relied on a decision of the Calcutta High Court reported in Dhirendra Nath Sen and another v. Rajat Kanti Bhadra. 1970 Cri. L. J. 662, and on a decision of the Supreme Court reported in G. Narasimhan and others etc. etc., v. T. V. Chokkappa, : 1973CriLJ52 , in support of his second submission.

(8) Mr. N. K. Jaggi, learned counsel for the respondent has raised a preliminary objection to the maintainability of this application under Section 482 of -the Code. He submits that the accused not having challenged by way of a revision petition the order of summoning him to stand his trial for an offence under Section 500, Indian Penal Code, which order had been passed on May 29, 1976, the present application does not lie. On merits he submits that Swami Divyanand, admittedly a chela of Swami Purnanand Ji Maharaj, had also been defamed as he had been brought down in the estimations of the public and was thereforee, a person aggrieved. The complaint was thus maintainable. In support of his contention that the complainant is an aggrieved person he has cited two decisions, namely (1901) I.L.R. 25 Bom 151 (Chhotalal Lallubhai v. Nathabhai Bechar and another), and : AIR1950Pat545 (Deobrat Shastri and another v. Rang Bahadur Singh).

(9) The details of the imputations are given in para 4 of the complaint which I have noted above. The complainant's allegation appears to be that the four specific instances given in sub-paras (a) to (d) of the said para 'are patent falsehood done with malice and makes the Dharam and Guru and his chelas including the complainant a subject of contempt and ridicule,...........'. The learned Magistrate, while keeping .in view the above allegations, has observed in paragraph 9 of the impugned order that serious allegations having been leveled against the spiritual head of the Ashram, the Court while summoning the accused had come to the conclusion that disciples of the Guru also stood degraded and defamed by those allegations. It was further observed that as such the decision of the Calcutta High Court in Dhirnedra Nath Sen's case (supra) was distinguishable. At this stage I may note the ratio of the said decision. It was observed therein that the mere fact that the feelings of the complaint have been injured in consequence of a defamatory statement made against his religious head, afforded no ground under the law to the complainant to prosecute the accused for defamation. It was, thereforee, held that where the defamation was that of a spiritual head of a certain comunity an individual person of that community was not the person aggrieved and as such the cognizance of offence taken on a complaint by that individual person, was illegal. I am of the view that the law laid in that case is fully applicable to the facts of the present case. The imputations, as quoted above, clearly show that those relate to Swami Purnanand Ji Maharaj and Shrimati Pritma Devi. According to para 4 of the complaint, because of those imputations the complainant has also become a subject of contempt and ridicule among the sanyasis. This allegation, in fact, shows that the complainant feels injured in consequence of the said defamatory statement. However, this feeling that he is being ridiculed by the 'other sanyasis and right thinking members of the Society' must be the one being shared by the other disciples of the said Guru.

(10) The authorities cited by Mr. Jaggi to show that Swami Divyanand Ji is the person aggrieved within the ambit of Section 199 of the Code, may now be noticed. In Deobrat Shastri's case (supra), the Manager of a Cooperative Bank had filed the complaint under Section 500, Indian Penal Code. It was held by Sarjoo Prasad, J. that the Manager was a person who was primarily concerned with the day today management of the Bank, and it was he who was responsible for any lapse or mismanagement of its affairs. thereforee, it could not be said that he was not the person aggrieved when the defamatory imputations were against the Bank. In Chhotalal Lallubhai's case, decided on August 7, 1900, prior to the 1923 amendment brought in Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, it was held that a husband complaining or an imputation of unchastity on his wife's part would prima-facie be entitled to file a complaint for defamation. It was, however, held that any fanciful or sentimental grievance of a person would not make him a person aggrieved to bring him within the meaning of Section 198 of the Code. These two authorities do not support the contention of the respondent.

(11) In the facts and circumstances of the present case, the complainant has not been able to prove that the above imputations are against him personally or that he is the person aimed at. It can, thereforee, be held that he is not an aggrieved person within the ambit of Section 199(1) of the Code which reads as follows :

'199.Prosecution for defamation. (1) No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Chapter Xxt of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence: Provided that where such person is under the age of eighteen years, or is an idiot or a lunatic or is from sickness or infirmity unable to make a complaint,, or is a woman who, according to the local customs and manners, ought not to be compelled to appear in public, some other person may, with the leave of the Court, make a complaint on his or her behalf.'

The learned trial Court, in my view, was wrong in holding that the law laid in Dhirendra Nath Sen's case (supra) was not applicable to the facts of the present case. The defamatory allegations, even according to the learned trial Court, are that Swami Purnanand Ji Maharaj, who was a spiritual head of the Ashram, was leading an immoral life. The said Swami Purnanand Ji Maharaj, according to the complainant's own showing, owns property, namely, four Ashrams one at Delhi and the others at Haridwar and Ahmedabad. It is nowhere stated that he has renounced the word. There is no Explanationn as to why the Guru or the lady with whom he is alleged to have illicit relations, cannot file the complaint. The maximum that one can say about the complainant is that he has a grievance about his Guru being defamed. But that grievance, which the other members of the Ashram must also be. sharing, cannot make him the aggrieved person within the meaning of sub-section (1) of Section 199 of the Code.

(12) In the view which I have taken, it is not necessary to deal with the second submission of Mr. Sud. I do not wish to dilate on the merits of the imputation which may prejudice the interests of the parties or other persons at a later stage. The third submission of Mr. Sud appears to me to be premature at this stage.

(13) Now dealing with the preliminary objection raised by Mr. Jaggi, I may refer to the law laid on this proposition by their lordships of the Supreme Court in Raj Kapoor and others v. State (Delhi Administration and others), : 1980CriLJ202 . It has. been held that when it is shown that the proceedings pending in the lower Court are an abuse of the process of the Court, there is no total ban on the exercise of the inherent powers by the High Court.

(14) In the present case, the cognizance of the offence has been taken on a complaint of a person who is not an aggrieved person within the meaning of sub-section (1) of Section 199 of the Code, the cognizance of the offence, thereforee, was illegal, being against the mandatory provisions of the Code. To ignore such a breach of law, would amount to ignoring the grounds of public policy which have been enunciated in sub-section (1) of Section 199 of the Code, for the benefit of an accused.

(15) In the result I quash the complaint (Case No. 17 of 1977) under Section 500, Indian Penal Code. filed by Swami Divyanand under Section 500, Indian Penal Code, pending in the Court of Mr. K. S. Khurana, Metropolitan Magistrate I Class. Delhi.


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