1. The complainant was being cross-examined by the accused's Vakil in a Small Cause suit. The Vakil at the instance of the accused asked the complainant whether he had not been prosecuted for a criminal offence. The complainant, therefore, brought a charge of defamation against the accused under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code. A preliminary objection was taken before the Magistrate that the action of the accused was privileged, but the objection was overruled. Hence this revision petition by the accused.
2. The principle of English Law is that no action of libel or slander lies whether against judges, counsel, witnesses or parties for words written or spoken in the ordinary course of any proceedings before any Court or tribunal recognized by law'--Dawkins v. Lord Rokeby L.R. 8 Q.B. 255. If the present question were arising for the first time we might hesitate to apply the above principle in the face of Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code. The principle, however, has been acted upon by this Court in a series of decisions--Vide Sullivan v. Norton 10 M.k 28, Manjaya v. Sesha Shetti 11 M.k 477, Hayes v. Christian 15 M.k 414, Queen-Empress v. Govinda Pillai 16 M.k 235, In the matter of Alraja Naidu 30 M.k 222, and we are not prepared to dissent from their decisions. It follows that the action of the accused was privileged and that he is not liable to be prosecuted for defamation under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code. The Presidency Magistrate should dispose of the case in the light of the above remarks.