1. This is an appeal by the plaintiff from a judgment of the learned District Judge of the 24 Perganas, affirming the decision of the learned Subordinate Judge of Alipur. The plaintiff brought his suit against eleven defendants to recover damages, first of all, for malicious prosecution and secondly, for defamation I use the word defamation advisedly. The case set up in the plaint was that the plaintiff had been prosecuted before the Deputy Magistrate of Diamond Harbour by reason of the defend ants having filed a petition before the learned Magistrate alleging that the plaintiff had been guilty of certain offences. The case, of defamation as argued in this Court and before the learned District Judge is, I am satisfied, a totally different case to that set up in the plaint. It is quite true that in the third paragraph of the plaint the plaintiff states that the defendants are persons living in the same village with the plaintiff and that they in collusion with One another are spreading false imputations against the plaintiff at various places, such as that the plaintiff had been assisting in abducting young women. But it is impossible to imagine, that, the case set up by the plaintiff was that the eleven persons at one and the same time were at various places making serious allegations: against the plaintiff with reference to his having set fire to certain houses and being engaged in abducting girls. As a matter of fact, a suit like that will not lie unless it is proved that the defendants made these allegations acting together, as each publication of the libel or slander was a distinct tort and a separate suit would have to be maintained against every person uttering and publishing the slander. The real truth is that in this inartistic plaint it must be meant that these allegations against the plaintiff have got round the village and he, therefore, suffered in his reputation in the village by reason of these allegations which had become known by the petition of complaint. The learned Subordinate Judge dismissed the suit. The learned District Judge also affirmed that decision on appeal.
2. First of all, as regards the case of malicious prosecution, the view, that the learned Judge of the lower Appellate Court took, was that a mere filing of a petition of complaint would not by itself be sufficient to maintain an action for damages for malicious prosecution. That was the view taken by this Court in the case of Golap Jan v. Bhola Nath Khetry 11 Ind. Cas. 311 : 38 C. 880 : 15 C. W. N. 917. A similar view has been taken by myself sitting on the Original Side of this Court in the case of DeRoz rio v Gulab Chand Anundjee 6 Ind. Cas. 877 : 37 C. 358. It is quite clear that we must follow those judgments and hold that the allegations in the plaint in the present case do not disclose any case for which damages for malicious prosecution can be awarded in favour of the plaintiff.
3. The question of the defamation stands on a different footing. Mr. Mitter on behalf of the appellant has argued that the fourth paragraph of the written statement amounts to an admission of the, publication of the defamatory statements set out in the third paragraph of the plaint and merely adds a plea of justification. I am not satisfied, notwithstanding Mr. Mi(sic)ter's statement and the knowledge he has of the Vernacular in which the pleadings are drawn, that that is correct. I think that by the written statement it was probably intended to put in issue the question as to whether these defamatory statements had been published and in that view I am fortified by the opinion of the learned Subordinate Judge and also of the learned District Judge. They took a similar view that the written statement did, in fact, put in issue the question as to whether these defamatory statements had ever been published. The view that the learned District Judge took with regard to that was that on that part of the case for damages for slander the plaintiff had brought his suit against the eleven persons, not stating which of them uttered and which of them published these slanders, where they were published and how they were published and to whom. He thought it highly improper in a case like this to allow the plaintiff to amend his plaint and set out the further particulars. I agree with the learned District Judge that if this plaint was amended in the way Mr. Mitter suggested, it would be impossible, now we know that the plaintiff's case is that the defamatory words were uttered and published orally, to find that these eleven persons all at one and the same time acting in concert made publication of identically the same defamatory statements against the plaintiff. I think in that case we would have to split up the case and direct eleven separate trials of these split up suits with regard to the separate publication of each of these separate slanders, because each publication amounts to a separate and independent tort. The plaintiff ought not now, considering that this suit started six years again the year 1911, to be allowed to take such a course. Whether the incidents of setting fire to the pile of straw or the assisting in the abduction of young girls are forgotten incidents or not I do not know. But it is quite possible that after such a length of time the plaintiff Digambar Das has been restored by his continued good conduct to the confidence of his friends and the general public. I think that this case ought not to be sent back for retrial at this period. The present appeal, therefore, fails and must be dismissed with costs.
4. I agree