B.P. Beri, C.J.
1. Applicant Shyam Narain is the Editor and Publisher of a weekly newspaper 'Jagrati' from Kota, In its issue oil December 19. 1964 he published an open letter addressed to the Minister for Local Self Government. Raiasthan. Jaipur. The author of the letter was Badri Prasad. The Editor's comment was that Badri Prasad had failed to get justice from the administrator of the Municipal Corporation, Kota, and. therefore, the correspondent was compelled to write this open letter to the Minister. The letter contained defamatory allegations against Ayodhyanath Chaturvedi. Prosecuting Inspector. Municipal Council. Kota. He instituted a complaint under Section 500 I.P.C. against Shyam Narain. With Badri Prasad the complainant Ayodhya Nath Chaturvedi compromised the matter at the appellate stage and the sons of Shyam Narain tendered apology which was accepted and the matter was compromised It was not disputed that the allegations contained in that letter in regard to Ayodhya Nath Chaturvedi were per se defamatory. Shyam Narain also did not dispute that he published it. The contents of the letter, very briefly stated, were that Ayodhya Nath had constructed a house against the approved plan; that he had illegally occupied 1000 sq. feet of Government land without paying any rent; that he had trespassed on the Government land while constructing his house; that his relations had constructed house without approved plans and that he as the Prosecutor of the Municipal Corporation suppressed these complaints and that Ayodhya Nath had removed the files of several persons from the Corporation and instituted false cases against them in the court, etc. Shyam Narain pleaded that he had published the letter in the public interest and the allegations were true. He failed to prove the exception. The learned Additional Mun-siff-Magistrate First Class No. 3 Kota, by his judgment dated September 13. 1967 convicted Shyam Narain and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for 8 months. Against this judgment an appeal was heard by the Additional Sessions Judge. Baran, who dismissed it without altering the sentence. Dissatisfied Shyam Narain is before me.
2. The learned Counsel for the applicant submits that a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for 8 months is illegal because Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code makes defamation punishable only with simple imprisonment. His second submission is that the accused was 60 years of age in 1966 when he was examined and he is now of 68 years. The defamatory article was published in the year 1964 and this controversy has been languishing for 10 years. The accused-applicant has already undergone 13 days' rigorous imprisonment when he was himself not the author of the Letter and his editorial comment cannot be characterised as malicious. He submits that the sentence already undergons by him is sufficient in the circumstances of this case.
3. Mr. H. P. Gupta urged that the applicant has not shown any repentence and in fact endeavoured to justify the contents of the defamatory letter and on this account he deserves no leniency.
4. Having regard to the nature of the contents of the letter the conviction of the applicant for an offence under Section 500 I. P.C. calls for no interference. What remains to be examined is whether the sentence of rigorous imprisonment passed against him is legal. It is unfortunate that the plain language of the statute escaped the notice of both the courts below when the Magistrate sentenced and the appellate court upheld the sentence of rigorous imprisonment to a person guilty under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code. This old man has already suffered 13 days' rigorous imprisonment and this error of law can be only academically corrected now. The applicant merely published the grievance of some one else in his newspaper. He had nothing personal against Ayodhyanath Chaturvedi. This indeed is a mitigating circumstance, Added to this is another feature in this case which deserves notice, namely, that the applicant is 68 years old man and the defamatory article was published 10 years ago. What would be adequate sentence in these circumstances is a question not always easy to answer. A skilful balance between the competitive claims of reformatory, deterrent and retributive theories of punishments has to be adjusted. I have given my anxious consideration to the rival demands of all these theories of punishment and in my opinion having regard to all the circumstances of the case ends of justice would be now adequately met if the sentence already undergone by the applicant is treated as enough of punishment in this case.
5. The revision application is, therefore, allowed to the extent that the sentence of the applicant is (changed from rigorous imprisonment to simple imprisonment and it is reduced to the one already undergone by him.