1. This is an application for revision of an order of acquittal passed by the First Class Magistrate, Junagadh, The applicant prosecuted the opponents for defamation in respect of three applications made by them to the revenue authorities which were alleged to contain statements defamatory of the applicant. The parties come from Kathrota, a village of the former Junagadh State. Opponent 1's grandfather was the Patel of the village and after him opponent 1's father was the Patel and on the latter's death opponent 2 Kanji Madha uncle of. opponent 1 was appointed Patel as opponent 1 himself was then very young. The village was originally under the direct administration of the Junagadh State, but it came to be given to the Begum of the Nawab Saheb and since then it was managed privately by a 'vahivatdar' of the Begum, and not through the State. It was during this latter regime that opponent 2 was removed and the applicant was appointed Patel of the village in about April 11)47.
Then owing to the political changes the Government of India took over the administration of the Junagadh State and appointed an Administrator, subsequently a Council of Ministers was in charge of the administration of the State before its integration with Saurashtra. Of the three applications complained the first dated 1.9.1947 was made by opponent 1 to the Administrator of the Junagadh State, the second dated 5.4.1948 was made by all the opponents and two others to the Revenue Commissioner of Junagadh and the third dated 10.4.1948 was made by opponent 1 alone to the Revenue Minister of the State. These applications were enquired into by a 'Vahivatdar' of the State Mr. Ratirai Mankad and as a result the applicant was dismissed from office in June 1949 and a new Patel was appointed by election. The applicant made a fruitless attempt to have the said order of his removal from office set aside and subsequently filed the present complaint of defamation against the opponents. The learned Magistrate acquitted the opponents holding that the accusations complained of were made in good faith and were covered by Exception No. 8 to Section 499, Penal Code, and that no offence was committed.
2. Now the first and the third application were made by opponent 1 alone and the second was made by him and the other opponents and properly speaking therefore all the accused could not be tried together, the alleged defamation having taken place at different times at the hands of different persons, and not in the course of the same transaction. However, this aspect of the question is not material in the view we are taking and we leave it at that. In the first application opponent 1 sets out the history of the Patel ship and states how it had remained in his family since his grandfather's time and how they had served the Junagadh State since three generations. It says that his uncle Kanji Madha was removed because he did not allow fishing in the village tank as it wounded the religious feelings of the Hindus of the village, and it recites that Gova Ladha, the complainant, was appointed Fatal because he was a flatterer, that he had 'made many black things', and that he did not deserve to continue as the Patel.
It also complained of the highhanded behaviour of Gova and finally prayed that he the opponent 1 may be appointed Patel of the village. Now excepting perhaps for the words that Gova was 'a flatterer' and had done 'many black things' there is nothing in these applications which can be taken as defamatory of the applicant. One of the statements in the second application is that Gova had, by intrigue and collusion with the servants of the Begum Saheba, succeeded in getting the Patelship, that the village people were opposed to fishing being permitted in the village tank, but Goya took the lead in getting the fishing permitted and thereby secured the Patelship, and that he also freely allowed shooting of peacocks and otherwise harassed the agriculturists and others.
The application then proceeds to mention certain definite instances in which the applicant had acted in an improper and illegal manner, and finally prays that the applicant be suspended forthwith from service. The last application, which is made by opponent 1 alone also prays for the suspension of the applicant and excepting for a general statement that the applicant was acting in a highhanded manner and had worked to the detriment of the State, It does not contain any definite allegations. Now it is true that some of the allegations above referred to it) the first application might be treated as defamatory 'per se' and some of the allegations in the second application too can be equally treated of defamatory 'per se.' However they must be considered in the light of the background and in the context in which they have been made.
The Patel of the village used to be appointed by election and that was how opponent l's grandfather, father and uncle came the appointed. The applicant's appointment was not made by an election and naturally a section of the village people believed that the applicant had managed to get into the Patelship by flattery and improper means. His conduct after the appointment too was highhanded and definite instances of the same were complained of. The applications were made to the-superior authorities with the object that they might be investigated by the authorities and? that the applicant be removed from office. The allegations were in fact investigated and the 'vahivatdar' Mr. Mankad had held some of them proved, and in consequence of his reports. the applicant was actually removed from office.
3. Regarding the other accusations complained of as defamatory, although they may not have been referred to in terms in the report of the 'vahivatdar', it does appear that the opponents mad$ them in good faith, that is, with due care and attention. They were made with respect to the subject-matter of the enquiry into the conduct of the applicant. The learned Magistrate has held on an appreciation of the evidence that they were made in good faith and we see no reason to differ from that view. The accusations complained of are thus covered by Excpn. 8 to Section 499 and they do not amount to defamation under the Section.
4. But assuming that the accusations were not made in good faith and did not fall under Excpn. 8 to Section 499 and that the accused might therefore be convicted, the most that could be done would be to direct a retrial. We agree with the view taken by the Bombay High Court in - Vinayak Atmaram v. Shantaram Janardhan AIR 1941 Bom 410, where although the Court was of the opinion that on the evidence the accused might properly have been convicted, it declined to order a retrial observing as follows:
But we think that this is a private quarrel which mainly concerns the complainant and the accused and to some extent the other members of the Pathare Kshatriya community. It is not a matter, we think, in which the public has any interest whatever. That being so, it would be waste of time and money to direct that there should be a retrial, and we have decided that we will not interfere.
We agree with these observations and even if we had taken the view that the accusations complained of were not covered by Excpn. 8 and that they constituted defamation under Section 499, Penal Code, we would have declined to interfere, since the quarrel here is a private quarrel between the complainant and the accused in which the public has no interest whatever.
5. The application is dismissed.
6. I agree.