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Chellappan Pillai Vs. Karanjia - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1962CriLJ142
AppellantChellappan Pillai
RespondentKaranjia
Cases ReferredEmperor v. Jabbar Mai A.I.R.
Excerpt:
.....some standing, can very well be presumed to know or to have reason to believe that the imputation published by him would harm the complainanst reputation. 1 was not lowered in their estimate and his well earned reputation remains unaffected in spite of the irresponsible publication. if a well it fined dash is defamed each & every member of that class can file a complaint. 15. the next point that is raised is that the case musli fail because there was no evidence of publication. 1 has given evidence that ulitz has got a good circulation in trivandrum. evert otherwise in a case where the trial has proceeded to its conclusion and the court is satisfied that no failure of justice has been occasioned by the trial the error may amount merely to an irregularity curable under section 531 of the..........connection refer to the decision in ram narain v. emperor a.i.r. 1924 all 566. in that case the accused published a .pamphlet in hindi defaming the complainant, by describing him as a sharif .badmash which when translated means 'gern jeman scoundrel'. it was contended that it has not lowered his moral or intellectual character and no offence was committed. paniels, j., stated:this argument overlooks the fact that a person commits defamation within the meaning of section 499 who publishes any imputadon concerning any person intending to harm the reputation of that person whether harm is acacia caused or not a person who publishes defamatory matter against another in a case not covered by any of the exceptions cannot escape nutriment on the ground that the reputation of the person.....
Judgment:

P. Govinda Menon, J.

1. These two criminal appeals are aireded against the order of acquittal ptassed 'by the learned Additional Sessions Judige of Trivandrurn, Criminal Appeal 49 of 1961 is by the Sato and Criminal Appeal 33 of 1961 is filed by the complainant after obtaining special leave Under Section 417(3) Cr.PC

2. The accused in the case Sri. R. K. Kararijia is the Editor and Publisher of a News Magazine called 'Bliz' published from Bombay. In the issue of the Magazine dated 11-7-1959 a photograph was published with a caption 'Soldiers of the Goonda War wait in the compound of Bishop's Palace fit Trivandrum for the church bells be toll,, the signal for attack'. The complainant Sri Chellappan Pillai, the Chief Correspondent of a Malayalam daily called 'Malayalam Rajyam' one of '.he persons in the photograph has filed the complaint alleging that the photograph with the false caption was. published with intent to harm his reputation and to lower him in the estimate of others.

3. On 15-6-59 Pw. 1 and some other Press representatives of Trivandrum along with Pw. 2 the Director of Public Relations visited the premises of St. Joseph's High School, a school under the management of the Archbishop of Trivandrum. This school was not re-opened on the 15th June as a protest against be Kerala Education Act. The school was heavily someday by a crowd of people who were opposed to the 'Vimochana Samaram' or the Liberation Struggle as people called it, a movement started against the Communist rule in Kerala. Pw. 3 the Official photographer took a photograph of the school which the local Press representatives including ''he complainant and 'races of stones having been thrown at the school by the hostile crowd.

4. The prosecution case is that the accused who was actively supporting the Communist Ministry got a copy of this photograph with the intention of harming the reputation of the group vi Press representatives including the complainant who were supporters of the Liberation Movement, (printed and' published it in his News Magazine with a false caption to mislead the public and to defame the complainant and others, Pw. 2 the Director of Public Relations who got a copy of the paper saw the photograph with a false caption and wrote to the accused drawing his attention to %e wrong caption. Correction was not made, Pw. 1, therefore, filed the complain. On the evidence the learned Magistrate found that the photograph with the liaise caption was per se defamatory, that it was published with intention of defaming the complainant and others in the photograph and round the accused guilty of offences Under Sections 500 and 501 of the Penal Code.

5. On appeal the learned Addison Sessions Judge agreed with the Sub-Divisional Magistrate that there was publication within the jurisdiction of the Sub Divisional Magistrate, that the photo was published with a false caption depicting Pw. 1 as one of the soldiers of the Goonda War and that the photograph with the caption was defamatory. The learned Judge however, found that Pw. 1 had not suffered in reputation and so the offence was not made out. Another ground mentioned by the learned Judge to base the order of acquittal is that the prosecution had not proved that the accused was the editor and publisher of the News Magazine 'Bli'z'. The correctness of the conolusions arrived at by the teamed Sessions Judge is challenged before us.

6. As to the want of proof that the accused was the Editor and Publisher of the paper, we have on page .19 of the issue of Blitz dated 11-7-1959, a declaration made by the accused in, the following terms: 'Edited and published by R. K. Karanjia for Blitz Publications (Private) Limited at Patel House, 17H Causal Patel Street, Bombay 1 and printed by Mm at Jouinal Press (Indian National Press (Bombay) Private Limited) Fort, Bombay'.

Section 7 of the Press and Registration: of Books Act (XXV of ,1867) reads as follows:

In any legal proceeding whatever, as well civil as criminal, the production of a copy of such declaration as is aforesaid, attested by the seal of some court empowered by this Act to have the custody of such declarations, or in the case of the editor, a copy of 'he newspaper containing his name printed on it as that of the editor, shall be held (unless the contrary be proved) to be sufficient evidence, as against the person whose name shall be subscribed t0 such declaration or printed on such newspaper, as the case may be, that the said person was printer or publisher or printer and publisher (according as the words of the said declaration may be) of every portion of every newspaper whereof the title shall correspond with the title of the newspaper mentioned in the declaration or the editor of every portion of that issue of the newspaper of which a copy is produced.

Thus as far as newspapers are concerned the declaration printed on the paper would be sufficient evidence as against the person whose name shall be subscribed t0 such declaration that the said person is the printer or publisher of every portion of the newspaper. There is no similar provision in the. Act With regard to books and so the name printed in a book cannot be taken as prima facie evidence and in such cases a copy of the entry made in the register Under Section 18 of the Act has to be produced. No such thing is necessary as far. as newspapers are concerned.

The statutory declaration made by the accused to the effect that the issue of the Blitz under reference has been edited, published and printed by him proves that the accused is the person responsible for the publication of the defamatory matter. The learnedi counsel appearing for the respondent has fairly conceded that this ground on which the acquitfial is based cannot the supported.

7. The next ground on which the acquittal is based is equally untenable. The learnedi Judge has observed that .the prosecution must prove that others believed, in the imputation made and thereby the reputation of Pw. 1 was actually injured and in' the instant case the publication even though it rolghia have pained Pw. 1, his-reputation has not suffered and the offence is, therefore, not made out.

To bring the publication of a scandalous imputation) under the Penal law it is not necessary to prove that it was done outs of any ill will or malice or that the complainant had actually suffered from M. It would be sufficient to show that the accused intended or knew or had reason to believe that the impaction made by him would harm the reputation of the complainant. Every Sane man is presumed to have intended the consequences which normally follow from his act. The accused a journalist of some standing, can very well be presumed to know Or to have reason to believe that the imputation published by him would harm the complainanst reputation.

8. We may in this connection refer to the decision in Ram Narain v. Emperor A.I.R. 1924 All 566. In that case the accused published a .pamphlet in Hindi defaming the complainant, by describing him as a Sharif .Badmash which when translated means 'gern Jeman scoundrel'. It was contended that it has not lowered his moral or intellectual character and no offence was committed. Paniels, J., stated:

This argument overlooks the fact that a person commits defamation within the meaning of Section 499 who publishes any imputadon concerning any person intending to harm the reputation of that person whether harm is acacia caused Or not A person who publishes defamatory matter against another in a case not covered by any of the exceptions cannot escape nutriment On the ground that the reputation of the person attacked was so good or that of the persons attacking so bad, that serious, injury to the reputation was not, in fact caused.

To the same effect is the decision in V. Madanjiu v. Emperor 9 Ind Gas 775 (Burma) and Gobinda Pershad Pandey v. G. L. Garth ILR 28 Cal 63.

9. The learned Judge had probably? in mind Explanation IV of Section 499 IPC which says;

No imputation is said to harm a person's reputation, unless that imputation directly or directly, is the estimate of others, lowers the moral or intaglio dual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste.

What the learned Judge says is that it is not likely that any one who knows the complainant would believe the imputation and Pw. 1 was not lowered in their estimate and his well earned reputation remains unaffected in spite of the irresponsible publication. This consideration cannot arise when the statement is admitted by the learned Judge itself to be by itself defamatory.

10. A Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Queen Empress v. Mc Carthy ILR 9 All 420 at p. 426 observed as follows regarding Explanation IV:

The explanation, does not apply where the words used and forming the basis of a charge are per se defamatory. When.' an, expression used verbally or in writing, is dotibtftil ,as to 'its, significance arid some evidence is hecelssary 6 decide what the effect of that expression will be and whether it is calculated to Harm a particular person's reputation, it is possible that the principle enunciated in Explanation IV of Section 499 might, and would with propriety, be applied. But in this case there is no question as to the significance or meaning of the words written. They are distinctly defamatory within the meaning or Section 499 and as such whether they were written in haste or in anger, the respondent is clearly responsible and unless she can show 'font I'-' case falls within any of the exceptions to the Section it was and is impossible for her to resist a verdict Of guilty.

Applying these tests it is clear that the 'earned Judge has not correctly interpreted the law and the order of acquittal cannot be supported; on this ground also.

11. The learned Counsel for the respondent has soughs to maintain the order of acquittal on other grounds and we will now, deal with the same. It is first stated that the photograph with the caption is not defamatory. It cannot be disputed that Pw. 1 a respectable man has been depicted in the picture as one of she soldiers o the Goonda War, a war organied by Goondas and as one waiting in the compound of the Bishop's Palace for the scorch bells to toll as a, signal to start the attack. It has been proved by unit teachable evidence that the caption is false one this fact is not disputed by the defence.

What is argued is that the word 'Goonda', toes no5 connote anything defamatory. It is stated 'that' the tjieaning of the word Goonda is not seen in dictionaries and in the absence of any explanation: by Pw. 1 and the other witnesses as to what exactly the term means it cannot be akin that th6 word has got any sinister or defamatory meaning. 'Goontfla' is a Hindi word and in the Hindi-Malayalam dictionary the meaning of the word is; given as 'Themmadi' which means a vagabond. The meaning of the word 'Goonda' can be gathered from the definition of the term 'Goonda' a the Central Provinces and Berar Goondas Adj X of 1946. Section 2 of the Act defines a Goonda as meaning 'a hooligan, rough or a vagabond and as including a person who is dangerous to public peacej or tranquillity.' In the case in Ravinder Kumar Sardari Lai v. District Magistrate, Delhi A.I.R. I960 Punj 332 Jussive Grover has used the word 'Goonda' in a sense synonymous to a dangerous arid1 desperate character, this is what the learned Judge says:

In communal arid other disturbances it is notorious that goondas become extremly active and that their activities create panic and alarm and add to the prevailing disorder. ...''Goonda is a was understood term and it Is idle to contend that to characterise a person as a 'Goondia' or a soldier of a Goonda War is not per se deforrtatory and it does not convey a sinister or defamatory meaning.

12. That publication of a phonograph with a false capti6n would amount to defamation canftot be disputed. Reference may be made to the decision in Cassidy v. Daily Mirror Newspapers Ltd. 1929-2 KB 331 a ease of a publication of a photograph with a caption which was said to have defamed fee plaintiff. The defendants published in a newspaper a photograph of one M. C. and a Miss X together with the words 'Mr. M. ' the race horseowner, and Miss X, whose engagement has been announced'. The plaintiff was, and was known among her friends as the lawful white of M. C. The plaintiff alleged that she had suitered damage through the above publication inasmuch as it was intended, and by several people understood, to mean that Cassidy was not the plaintiffs husband bull was living with her in immoral cohabitation. It was held that the publication was capable of conveying a meaning de-famatory of the plaintiff and, the jury having found that it conveyed to reasonably minded people an aspersion on her moral character, she was entitled to damages.

13. The question whether the alleged libel was published with the knowledge that it would apply to the complainant is also of no consequence. Since the decision, in E. Hulton and Co. v. Jones 1910 AC 20 it is impossible for the person publishing a statement which, to those who know certain facts, is capable of a defamatory mcaninw in regard to A, to defend himself by saying: 'I never heard of A and did not mean to injure him. If he publishes words reasonably capable of being read as relating directly or indirectly to A and;, to those who know the facts about A, capable of a defamatory meaning, he must take the consequences of the defamatory inferences reasonably drawn from his words. If publishers of newspapers who have no more rights hand private persons, publish statements winch may lie defamatory of other people, without inquiry as to their truth, in order to make their paper attractive, they must take the consequences, if on subsequent inquiry, their statements re found to be untrue or capable of defamatory inferences.

14. Another contention raised is that the complainant is not a person aggrieved and cannot file the complaint. The complaint is based on the publication of a photograph with a false caption. Admittedly Pw. 1 is one in the group. If a well it fined dash is defamed each & every member of that class can file a complaint. If authority for the position is needed reference may be made to the decision in Wahid Ullah Ahrari v. Emperor A.I.R. 1935 All 743, In that case the article in question described the girls in a particular college as habitually misbehaving. It was held:

that the inevitable effeet on the reader must be to make him believe that it was habffual with the girls of the college to behave in this way; that being so all the girls in the college individually must suffer in reputation and that a complaint by some of them was competent

Explanation 2 of Section 499 shows that it may amount to defajnation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association.

15. The next point that is raised is that the case musli fail because there was no evidence of publication. To maintain, a prosecution for deiamation in a particular court there must be publication of the libel within the limits of the jurisdiction of that court. Being a publication of a newspaper containing the libel it is sufficient to prove that the paper was delivered within the territorial jurisdiction of the court and it need not be proved that the libellous matter was seen or read by any particular person as in the case of a letter. Newspaper is a commodity printed for the purpose of being read and it can be pre. sumed that it was so read. The case in Queen Empress v. Girjashanker Kashiram ILR 15 Bom 286 is a representative case enunciating the principle. It has been followed in a Bench, decision of the Allahabad High Court im Emperor v. Jabbar Mai A.I.R. 1928 All 222.

16. It is proved by Pw. 2 the Director of Public Relations that he got copy of Blitz date: 11-7-1959 in Trivandrum. That evidence has not been challenged. Pw. 5 a representative of Mala-yala Manorama another paper it Trivandrum has stated that he had also seen this particular copy of the Blitz. Pw. 1 has given evidence that Ulitz has got a good circulation in Trivandrum. The cross-examination does not show that these facts are challenged. The accused had not in his Section 342 statement also disputed the fact of publication of the paper in Trivandrum. The learned Sub-Divisional Magistrate has considered this aspect of the question and would that there was sufficient evidence of publication in Trivandrum. On a reappraisal of the evidence the learned Sessions Judge has also arrived all the same conclusion, t do not find any reason to differ from the conclusions arrived at by the courts below. Evert otherwise in a case where the trial has proceeded to its conclusion and the court is satisfied that no failure of justice has been occasioned by the trial the error may amount merely to an irregularity curable Under Section 531 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

17. A suggestion was made that the caption given to the phonograph must have been clone through mistake. Any prudent editor on getting a copy of the photograph would make enquiries and find out what the photo represents betore giving it a caption. There is no case that any enquiries were made, Ext, P-2 (a) gives the correct caption which leaves no room for doubt as to what the photo really represents. To distort this original caption given by the maker of the picture and change it to suit one's purposes and thereby defaming the persons in the phonograph cannot be an innocent jnistake, but must certainly have been interr'ionally done. If as suggested by the defence the photograph had been received without any caption nothing prevented the accused from producing that photograph. Even after the fact was brought to the notice of the accused he did not care to issue a correction. It cannot, therefore, be a case of mistake having been committed.

18. Having come to he conclusioa that the defamatory matter has been published in Trivandrum, that the matter is per se defamatory, he the accused is responsible for its publication, that it was published with the intention be defame or with the knowledge that it would harm the reputation of the complainant it follows that the accused is guilty of the offences Under Sections 500 and 501 IPC. The acquittal of the necused is, therefore, unsustainable in law and has to be set aside.

19. In the result, the appeals are allowed and the order of acquittal is set aside. The ac' cussed is found guilty and convicted Under Sections 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code and is sentenced to pay a fine of Rs, 500/- in default to under go simple imprisonment for one month.


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