Skip to content


V.J. Prakash Vs. Niranjan Nath Paneri - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.B. Civil Second Appeal No. 719/1971
Judge
Reported in1982WLN412
AppellantV.J. Prakash
RespondentNiranjan Nath Paneri
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Sharat Chandra Das and Anr. v. The State
Excerpt:
.....of india--articles 14 & 16--equality before law--it applies equally to master & servant--abuses 'idiot' or 'bastard' are not actionable claim in english land--after independence it is no longer good taw;article 14 & article 16 of the constitution and the preamble proclaims equality before law and applies equally to master and servant. a servant is no longer a chattel, not, he is slave or bonded labour and therefore, if an employee rebukes a servant by the abuses of 'idiot' or 'bastards', the master can do so at his own peril, as he will have to pay damages in torts without proof of special damages or special injury. even though the words, 'bhadkavus' 'sala (wife's brother)', 'haramzada (base born or bastard)', 'soor (pig)', 'baper beta (son of the father, that is ironically..........most dry branch of litigation--a civil second appeal.2. the controversy is about the use of the abuse, 'idiot' by the appellant against the respondent. the question pressed by shri s.n. bhar-gava, the learned counsel for the appellant, which requires adjudication, is, whether the use of the words, 'idiot', go away', 'get out' from chamber', are defamatory words for which a claim of damages can be entertained under the torts.3. though disputed in the written statement, it is concurrent finding of fact that the defendant no. 1, v.j. prakash, who was an officer of plaintiff, rebuked him by using the following words,-'idiot, go-away, get out from my chamber'.this was done in the presence of number of employees of the office, in which the plaintiff & defendant, both, were working. this was.....
Judgment:

G.M. Lodha, J.

1. Are we to act as 'dumb driven cattle' of English Judges, unaware of Indian Social customs, ethics, morals, dictating from graves about the legal implications of hurling abuse and insult 'Idio ' by a boss to his subordinate clerk If use of insult and abuse like 'Bhaddukavas', 'Sala', Haramzada' (bastard), 'Soor' (pig) 'Bapar Beta', 'Out caste', 'Chandal' have been held to be not actionable for damages, by English Judges in India or English Judges or English Law oriented Indian Judge, there is no wordly reason that after proclamation of 'Equality' in Preamble & Article 14, 15 & 14 of the Constitution, I should blindly follow the English precedents and permit service Bosses to humiliate their subordinates by calling names with impunity from damages. Should I hesitate to respectfully disagree if not reject the obsolete outdated English law dictum that on such defamatory abuses and insults no actionable claim can be enterained in Torts and insults special injury and damages are proved Neither English Judge in India can be treated as Gods or Semi Gods, nor every principle of English law, bereft of Indian conditions can be treated as Divine Injunctions or Dharam Shastras or binding precsdent. New Dimensions and new Horizons of law originating from Indian Constitution and its functioning for last 3 decades; whether have evaporated and vanished the old, obsolete, imperialist concept of English Judges based on English law, who insisted on special injury and damages, in Torts, based on defamatory abuses and insults, is the pivot of lively and enlightening debate in this otherwise most dry branch of litigation--a civil second appeal.

2. The controversy is about the use of the abuse, 'idiot' by the appellant against the respondent. The question pressed by Shri S.N. Bhar-gava, the learned Counsel for the appellant, which requires adjudication, is, whether the use of the words, 'idiot', go away', 'get out' from chamber', are defamatory words for which a claim of damages can be entertained under the torts.

3. Though disputed in the written statement, it is concurrent finding of fact that the defendant No. 1, V.J. Prakash, who was an officer of plaintiff, rebuked him by using the following words,-'idiot, go-away, get out from my chamber'.

This was done in the presence of number of employees of the office, in which the plaintiff & defendant, both, were working. This was accompanied by defendant running after in angry mood, in staff hall.

4. Shri Bhargava who has argued this appeal, has submitted that it is only verbal abuse which was used in the heat of passion and anger and, was never meant to defame the plaintiff in the eyes of other persons. According to Shri Bhargava, the word, 'idiot', is not defamatory and more so, when it is used by the Officer against his employee in the heat of passion and angery mood during conversation or quarrel.

5. Inspite of the above contention, Shri Bhargava relied upon some of the decisions. In Konee Subhadra v. Subbarayadu (1) Mad Law Journal Reporter, Vol. X (1900) 839 the words used by the defendant against the plaintiff who was a dancing girl, were as under:

You Bhadkavus, what is it to you where we go to Why did you question my bandyman If you do so again, we will have you slipper sed and make you drink ours.

The Court was of the view that as used, however, in the course of heated language, it could not bear any such meaning and it was used merely as vulgar abuse. The full facts of the case have not been given as the judgment is very scanty. The plaintiff was a dancing girl and it is not even known, what was the cause of the quarrel. That being so, I am unable to deduce from the above decision that a senior officer can use the word, 'idiot'. The defendant No. 1 is a superior officer and he pleaded that he never meant to convey the plaintiff ill-imputation & they are not defamatory. In Girish Chunder Miner v. Jatadhari Sadukhan (2) Indian Decisions (Cal) Vol XIII (1898-1899) 653(2) majority of the Judges of Full Bench held that mere use of abusive and insulting language such as 'sala' (wife's brother), 'haramzada' (basa born or bastard),'soor'(pig),'baper beta, (son of the father, that is, ironically, bastard) is not actionable. Justice Ghose, who was in the larger bench, observed as under:

A case like the present should be decided according to the principle of justice, equity and good conscience, and therefore it is but just and right that a person thus vilified, who has suffered, from insult and mental pain, should be entitled to maintain an action irrespective of any special damage.

The majority judgment in the above case is based on the peculiar facts and in the context, in which the words were used at the time the land was encroached upon by the plaintiff in the above case. Moreover, I am not inclined to agree with the minority view in the above case. More so, because the words used in the present case were in a staff hall where a number of employees were sitting and the officer chased the employee and hurled all the above abuses which were highly defamatory.

6. Shri Bhargava, again, invited my attention to the judgment of Punjab High Court in Girdharilal v. Punjab Singh (3). Punjab Law Reporter Vol. XXXIV (1933) 1071 In the said case, the word used was 'outcaste', and, it was held that this was not actionable without special damage. In this case also, the learned Judge relied upon the English law, in which such statement as above, was not actionable without special damage. In my opinion, the above decision cannot be an authority which can apply in the facts and circumstances of the present case. In Sharat Chandra Das and Anr. v. The State 1952 Cr. L.J., 1941 the learned Judge observed as under:

The mere use of the expression 'chandal' cannot form the foundation for an action for defamation. It may amount to at best a form of scurrilous abuse and cannot be interpreted as conveying any imputation against the reputation of a person.

An intention to cause loss of reputation which is the essential ingredient of the offence cannot be attributed to a person who indulges in abuse, in a fit of excitement.

A complaint under Section 500, Penal Code alleged that the accused had defamed the complainant by falsely imputing him before other people in a temple that he was a chandal and had taken food in the houses of Dhobis and Kurangis and by holding conferences for the uplift of untouchables was moving them.

Held the words attributed to the accused did not amount to defamation.

This was a case of a complaint under Section 500, Indian Penal Code. It was held that an intention to cause loss of reputation which is the essential ingredient of the offence cannot be attributed to a person who indulges in abuse, in a fit of excitement. The above decision has got no application to the present case, where the action is for damages.

7. Shri Bhargava also invited my attention to the following paragraph mentioned in the treatise of Shri C. Kameswara Rao (Treatise Law of Damages & Compensation p. 934 (Vol.--1).(5)

1886. The character of the defamatory words:It is not every kind of abusive language used against the plaintiff that will furnish a cause of action. A mere verbal abuse not tending to lower a man in the estimation of others, or to bring him into oblique, contempt, or ridicule is not actionable (AIR 1949 Cut. p. 645). In such a case the harm resulting to the plaintiff will be considered so slight that the maxim 'de minimis non curat lax' is applied (I L R.(1949) Cut. 645). But where the abuse is uttered in circumstances tending, if not vindicated, to lower the person addressed in the estimation of the people, or to bring him into ridicule or contempt, or to injure him in his trade or profession, a cause of action will arise (MR 1925 All. 371). If the defamatory expressions are used under such circumstances, as to induce in the plaintiff reasonable apprehension that his reputation has been injured and to inflict on him pain consequent on such belief, the plaintiff is entitled to damage, (I.L.R. 8 Mad. 175).

It may be pointed out that this very that in England 'there is a rule that mere oral defamation is not actionable per se unless followed by special damage. This rule is not followed in India except by the Calcutta High Court within the limits of its ordinary original jurisdiction.

8. The most of the decision, extracted above, are of English Judges who have followed English Law, which applicable in the Indian condition The facts and circustances of the present case, in which the defendant-appeallant who was officer and the plaintiff who was an employee hurled not only the abuses in a defamatory manner by asking the employee to go out from chambers but ridiculed him as, 'idiot' in the presence of his colleagues; clear go to show that the plaintiff had reasonable apprehension that his reputation has been injured and the word 'idiot' has been used to lower the person.

9. With all respects, the English Judges who laid the law in India were sometimes swayed away by the hang over of colonial rule and imperialist objectives as they were born, kept and sent to India in a perverted atmosphere where 'Indians and Dogs' were treated alike, as per the, prohibitive warning notice Board put up at many hotels and restaurants of the western countries. After independence achieved by Indian and the new era of Indian Constitution, Indian Judges now need not treat every dictum of law laid down by English Judges, in colonial context, as gospel of truth and fatters for their decisions. Article 14 & Article 14 of the Constitution and the preamble proclaims equality before law and applies equally to master and servant. A servant is no longer a chattel, nor, he is slave or bonded labour & therefore, if an employee rebukes a servant by the abuses of 'idiot' or 'bastards', the master in torts can do so at his own peril, as he will have to pay damages without proof of special damages or special injury. Even though the words, 'Bhadkavus' 'sala (wife's brother)' 'Haramzada (base born or bastard)', 'soor (pig)', 'baper beta (son of the father, that is ironically bastard)', were used, and treated not actionable, the English law is no longer good law after coming into force of the Indian Constitution and I, for one, refuse to agree with them, without meaning any disrespect.

10. I am convinced that to tell a person he is an 'idiot' is the worst language to ridicule and bring him in contempt or to injure him in his trade or profession or status and reputation, in the eyes of those persons who hear this most serious type of vulgar abuses. I am, therefore, convinced that in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the respective office which the plaintiff and defendant were holding, the venue and the places where this abuse was used, the manner and method to ridicule the plaintiff in the presence of his other colleagues, and, further calling him an 'idiot' and, chasing him in the staff hall, all convincingly prove that the defendant-appellant uttered them to lower and bring in contempt and ridicule the person of the plaintiff in the eyes of his colleageus, who were present in the office. This was certainly actionable claim for damages.

11. In view of the above, the suit of the plaintiff was correctly decreed by the trial court and the decree was further correctly confirmed by the first appellate court. The result of the above discussion is that this appeal fails and the decree passed by the first appellate court damages of Rs. 500/- is upheld and the appeal is disallowed as indicated above with costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //