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Komari Pothuraju Setty and anr. Vs. Krishnapatam Padda Poliah and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1939Mad382; (1939)1MLJ414
AppellantKomari Pothuraju Setty and anr.
RespondentKrishnapatam Padda Poliah and anr.
Excerpt:
- - the petitioners as well as the complainants in the case are members of the fishermen community in ponnapady village, kovur taluk. the complainants were not satisfied with this resolution of the community and they bid for the lands and obtained certain lands from the government at the auction. reliance was placed before me only on the ninth exception which excepts imputations made in good faith for the protection of the interest of the person making it or of any other person or for the public good......at the auction. the community then brought pressure to bear upon the complainants to give up their lands to the community on receiving what they had paid for them, and it is alleged, with some profit also. but they refused to do so and on their refusal they were put out of caste. the ex-communication was notified to members of the community in other villages also and it is in respect of this publication of the excommunication that the charges of defamation were brought.2. it is not seriously argued that there was no publication and it cannot be disputed that the publication amounts to defamation unless the publication comes within one or other of the exceptions to section 499, indian penal code. it could hardly be argued that informing people even of one's own community that a certain.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Pandrang Row, J.

1. These are petitions to revise the order convicting and sentencing the petitioners, two in number, in C.C. Nos. 101 and 102 of 1937 on the file of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Kavali. The petitioners have been convicted of defamation and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 30 each or in default to suffer simple imprisonment for one month in respect of both the cases. The petitioners as well as the complainants in the case are members of the fishermen community in Ponnapady Village, Kovur Taluk. It is admitted that when the Government put up for auction certain waste lands in the village, there was a general feeling in the community that no one should bid for these lands because if there were no bids the lands could be got for the community as a whole at a cheap rate. The complainants were not satisfied with this resolution of the community and they bid for the lands and obtained certain lands from the Government at the auction. The community then brought pressure to bear upon the complainants to give up their lands to the community on receiving what they had paid for them, and it is alleged, with some profit also. But they refused to do so and on their refusal they were put out of caste. The ex-communication was notified to members of the community in other villages also and it is in respect of this publication of the excommunication that the charges of defamation were brought.

2. It is not seriously argued that there was no publication and it cannot be disputed that the publication amounts to defamation unless the publication comes within one or other of the exceptions to Section 499, Indian Penal Code. It could hardly be argued that informing people even of one's own community that a certain person has been ex-communicated from his caste does not harm that person's reputation in the eyes of his fellows. Nor could it be said that such a consequence is not one which the person who made the publication could not have known to be likely. The question therefore is whether the publication is covered by any of the exceptions to Section 499, Indian Penal Code. Reliance was placed before me only on the ninth exception which excepts imputations made in good faith for the protection of the interest of the person making it or of any other person or for the public good. This exception does not mean that in order to bring pressure to bear upon a person to part with his property which he is entitled in law to keep, a defamatory allegation can be made on the ground that it is for the protection either of the person who made it or of the community to which he belongs. It was argued that the publication was made in pursuance of a decision pronounced by D.W. 1 who is described as the headman of 64 fishermen villages. But this decision does not expressly record that excommunication should follow as a result of any refusal on the part of the complainants to give up the lands. In substance what happened is that because the complainants refused to part with the lands which they had bought in the auction, communications were sent to members of the community elsewhere that the complainants had been put out of caste. It is not proved that there was any actual decision by the caste panchayat to this effect, namely, that the complainants should be out-casted on this ground. Even if there was such a decision, it could not be regarded as having any validity. A caste panchayat can no doubt deal with offences relating to caste usages and customs, but it has no jurisdiction to decide questions regarding private property or impose any sanction such as loss of caste on any member of the community who declines to part with his property. I am therefore of opinion that the publication in question constituted the offence of defamation. The sentences cannot be said to be too severe in the circumstances. The petitions are dismissed.


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