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Satish Chandra Mullick Vs. Jagat Chandra Dutta and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication;Civil
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSuit No. 1524 of 1959
Judge
Reported inAIR1974Cal266
AppellantSatish Chandra Mullick
RespondentJagat Chandra Dutta and ors.
Appellant AdvocateAmiyanath Bose and ;Seth, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateT.K. Bose, ;Umesh Ch. Banerjee and ;M.S. Mitra, Advs. for Defendants Nos. 2, 3 and 4
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredGhose v. Ghose
Excerpt:
media and communication - defamation - defamatory statements alleged to be made in letter submitted in evidence before court - immunity form liability pleaded by defendants - whether publication was privileged on occasion it was made and whether privilege has been exceeded - held, publication of the statements are referable to the duty and interest of the defendants and are made, on privileged, occasion - publication of letter tendered as piece of evidence at trial was immune from liability to an action on ground of public policy - petition dismissed. - a.k. sarkar, j.1. this suit has been filed by the plaintiff, satish chandra mullick claiming inter alia a decree for damages assessed at rs. 1 lakh; an enquiry into damages and decree for such sum as may be found due on such enquiry; for injunction; receiver and other reliefs.2. the case of the plaintiff is that until 29th november, 1958, he was employed as cashier and head responsible clerk in the cash department of the defendant no. 2. rallis india ltd. during the entire periodof his employment under the defendant no. 2, the plaintiff continuously enjoyed reputation for honesty and trust-worthiness in respect inter alia of money matters. the defendant no. 1, jagat chandra dutta was an employee of the said defendant no. 2 and served as a clerk in the cash department.3. on or about 27th.....
Judgment:

A.K. Sarkar, J.

1. This suit has been filed by the plaintiff, Satish Chandra Mullick claiming inter alia a decree for damages assessed at Rs. 1 lakh; an enquiry into damages and decree for such sum as may be found due on such enquiry; for injunction; receiver and other reliefs.

2. The case of the plaintiff is that until 29th November, 1958, he was employed as Cashier and head responsible clerk in the Cash Department of the defendant No. 2. Rallis India Ltd. During the entire periodof his employment under the defendant No. 2, the plaintiff continuously enjoyed reputation for honesty and trust-worthiness in respect inter alia of money matters. The defendant No. 1, Jagat Chandra Dutta was an employee of the said defendant No. 2 and served as a clerk in the cash department.

3. On or about 27th September, 1958, the defendant No. 1, Jagat obtained a sum of Rs. 7,450/- by presenting a cheque to the United Bank of India Limited at its Clive Ghat Street Office. The said cheque was drawn in favour of one Globe Fertilisers or bearer by A. Taluqdar and Co., and made over by the said drawee to the defendant No. 2 in payment of price for twenty tons of fertilisers.

4. The circumstances in which the defendant No. 1, Jagat encashed the said cheque from the bank were stated by the said defendant in a writing in Bengali language dated 4th November, 1958, addressed by him to the defendant No. 2, Rallis India Ltd., as follows: --

'Re: Cheque drawn by A. Talukdar and Co., in favour of Globe Fertilisers'.

'On the 27th day of September, 1953, Prafulla Kumar Dutt gave me a bearer - cheque for Rs. 7,450/- and told me 'please encash the cheque as requested by Mr. Roy.' On the very day T brought the money and handed over to Prafulla in downstair. Only as mention of Mr. Roy's name was made so I did this. In that case our Bura Babu does not know anything. As the money belongs to somebody else. I did not inform the cashier Babu about this.'

5. The plaintiff's case is that by the words our 'Bura Babu' and 'Cashier' the defendant No. 1 meant to indicate and/or indicated and/or understood to indicate the plaintiff inasmuch as the plaintiff at the material time was the head of the cash department. The plaintiff in the premises could not and did not credit the account of the defendant No. 2 Rallis India Ltd., with the said sum of Rs. 7,450/-.

6. The defendant No. 1, Jagat with the full knowledge of the facts relating !o the said cheque for Rs. 7,450/- on 17th November. 1958 falsely and maliciously wrote and published to the defendant No. 2 Rallis India Ltd. and/or to the officers and employees of the said defendant No. 2 including the defendant, Michael Vlasto libellous statements in writing in Bengali concerning the plaintiff and concerning him in the way of his service and/or calling. An English translation of the said letter as set out in paragraph 11 of the plaint is set out hereunder:--Messrs. Rallis India Ltd.,

Calcutta.

17-11-58.

Dear Sir.

T. Sri Jagat Chandra Dutta, am submitting hereby what I want to say about mystatement in writing which has been submitted by me that the statement has not been made by me out of my free will nor does it contain the true fact. Cashier Babu, Sri Satish Chandra Mullick and his brother, Subodh Chandra Mullick threatened me that unless I give a writing in accordance with their advice they would get me sacked from service thon and there. Satish Chandra Mullick and his brother, Subodh Chandra Mullick asked me to write out the statement in the manner expressed by them otherwise every one would be in danger. Since about the last twenty two or twenty three years I have been working either under his (their) father or under them. And I was compelled to write down at their request, I wrote the statement according to their dictation and signed it. As in the usual course of my duties, I go to Banks, deposit cheques and bring money after encashment, so Cashier Babu gave me that cheque of Globe Fertilisers and asked me to get it cashed and I in the usual course of my duties cashed this cheque at the United Bank and gave it (money) to Cashier Babu. All of a sudden on the 41h November, the Cashier sent for me and told me that I was required to go to United Bank for once and he took me with him and there the cheque of Globe Fertilisers bearing my signature was shown to me. After coming out of the Bank Satish Babu said that trouble was going on concerning the cheque, I will be involved in danger and my service lost and I may even be jailed. I asked him why I should fall in danger when I had encashed the cheque and made over the money to him? He replied that as your signature was there on the cheque, so a statement in writing from you was asked by the office, it was to be submitted forthwith, there was hardly any time to lose and therefore if T preferred to be saved I must write out the statement at his guidance. I need not be afraid as they would do the needful and save me from any mischief and if necessary, even by spending money. At that moment I was in such a state of mind that T lost the strength of my judgment of right and wrong. T wrote down verbatim what Satish Babu and Subodh Babu were dictating and was forced to sign the statement for the purpose of maintaining my service. I am repentant of my act of this nature.

J belong to respectable family and have been working in this office since long and to my knowledge nobody has any complaint against me.'

Sd/- Jagat Chandra Dutt.

7. The plaintiff's case is that the defendant No. 1 made the said libellous statements in the said letter dated November 17, 1958, in the course of his employment as a servant and/or agent of the defendant No. 2, Rallis India Ltd., as well as in his persona! capacity. By the words used in the said letter the defendant No. 1 meant and/or understood to mean that the plaintiff had misappropriated the said sum of Rs. 7,450/- and further that the plaintiff had procured a false and fraudulent statement from the defendant No. 1 by the use of threat. The plaintiff's further case is that on 25th November, 1958, the defendant No. 2, Rallis India Ltd. and/or the defendant No. 3, Michael Vlasto for and on behalf of the defendant, Rallis India Ltd. suspended the plaintiff from service and/or from duties on the aforesaid false and malicious allegations.

8. The said defendant No. 2. Rallis India Ltd., and/or the defendant No. 3, Michael Vlasto caused an alleged enquiry tobe held into the said libellous allegations against the plaintiff on 26th November, 1958. At the said enquiry the defendant No. 4 R.T. Stevens purported to act as Chairman of the Committee and/or Board of Enquiry. The plaintiff's case is that the said defendant Stevens and/or the defendant, Vlasto published and/or caused to be published the said libellous statements made by the defendant, Jagat and contained in the said letter dated 17th November, 1958 inter alia to all the members of the Board which purported to hold the enquiry and to others present including the witnesses. On 29th November, 1958, the defendant No. 2 and/or defendant No. 3 wrongfully terminated the plaintiff's service on false allegations inter alia of misconduct in respect of the said sum of Rupees 7,450/-.

9. The plaintiff's further case is that on 29th November, 1958, the defendant, Rallis and or the defendant, Vlasto falsely and maliciously wrote and published to the Office-in-Charge, Hare Street Police Station, libellous statements of and concerning the plaintiff and/or concerning him in the way of his service and/or the calling in a letter bearing the head line, 'Misappropriation of cheque for Rs. 7,450/-'. By the said letter the said defendants meant and were understood to mean that the plaintiff bad misappropriated the said sum of Rs. 7450/- and thereby caused loss to the defendant, Rallis. Further more the said defendants, Rallis and/or Vlasto made over and/or caused to be made over and thereby published and/or caused to be published to the said Officer-in-Charge of the Hare Street Police Station and/or to some other subordinate officer or officers under him inter alia the aforesaid letter dated 17th November, 1958, written bv the said defendant No. 1. Jagat containing false, malicious and defamatory allegations against the plaintiff.

10. That the defendant No. 2, Rallis and/or defendant No. 3. Vlasto on or about 20th December. 1958 falsely and maliciously wrote and published to the said Officer-in-Charge. Hare Street Police Station, libellous statements of and concerning inter alia the plaintiff and of concerning him in the way of his service and/or calling by another letter bearing the head line 'Misappropriation of cheque for Rs. 7,450/-.' By the said letterthe said defendants meant and were understood to mean that the plaintiff had stolen or participated in the alleged theft of the said sum of Rs. 7,450/-. Thereafter the plaintiff was put on trial before the Court of the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta on a charge of criminal breach of trust under Section 408, of Indian Penal Code in respect of the said sum of Rs. 7,450/- alleged to have been entrusted to the plaintiff being the property of the defendant, Rallis. The plaintiff's case is that the defendants gave further publicity to the false and malicious allegations made in the said letter dated 17th November, 1958, written by the defendant No. 1, Jagat by causing the said Chief Presidency Magistrate (sic).

11. By an order made on 11th July, 1959, the plaintiff was honourably acquitted by the said Chief Presidency Magistrate.

12. By reason of the premises the plaintiff has been greatly injured in his character, credit and reputation in the way of his said Office and/or service and/or calling and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt and claimed damages which the plaintiff assessed at Rs. 1 lakh.

13. The defendant No. 1, Jagat Chandra Dutta filed his written statement. The defendants 2, 3 and 4 filed a joint-written statement inter alia denying the allegations in the plaint, and claiming common and corresponding interest in the alleged publication alternatively, legal and/or social and/or moral duty to publish the said words to the persons to whom they were published, who in their turn, had a like duty or interest to receive and hear them. The defendants contended that each of the occasion of the alleged publication was an occasion of qualified privilege. The publication, if any in the criminal proceedings in case No. G. R. 375 of 1959 (State v. Jagat Chandra Dutta and Satish Chandra Mullick) in the Court of the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta was absolutely privileged. The defendants denied that plaintiff was greatly injured in his character, credit and reputation and in the way of his said office and/or service and/ or calling and was brought to public scandal or contempt. The plaintiff was not entitled to any damages.

14. Several issues were raised and settled in Court.

15. In this suit the Court is not called upon to determine as to whether the plaintiff was wrongfully dismissed from his service or about the proceeds of the said cheque and as to who was responsible for the Joss of the amount of the said cheque or to determine upon the sufficiency and validity of the enquiry proceedings held by the Board of Enquiry of the defendant No. 2.

16. The main issues in the suit are whether the letter dated I7th November, 1958. written by the defendant Jagat tendered as Exhibit 'D', the letter dated 29th November, 1958, written by the defendant No. 3, Vlasto to the Officer-in-Charge, Hare Street Police Station tendered as Exhibit 'G', and the letter dated 20th December, 1958, written by the said defendant No. 3, Vlasto to the said Officer-in-Charge, Hare Street Police Station tendered as Exhibit 'H' contain libellous statements concerning the plaintiff and whether the libellous statements were published by the defendant No. 1 to the defendant No. 2 and/ or to its officers and employees or by the defendants 3 and 4 to the members of the Board of Enquiry, the officers and employees of defendant No. 2 including the witnesses during the enquiry proceedings, or by the defendants 2 and/or 3 to the Officer-in-Charge of the Hare Street Police Station and to the officers subordinate to him or during the criminal proceedings before the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta by tendering the said letter dated 17th November, 1958, in evidence, Whether by the said libellous statements and the publication thereof, the plaintiff was injured in his character, credit and reputation and in the way of his said office and/or service and/or calling and was brought to public scandal, odium and contempt.

17. The plaintiff's allegation in the suit is that the defendant No. 1, Jagat in the course of his employment as a servant and/ or agent of the defendant No. 2 Rallis India Ltd., as well as in his personal capacity made libellous statements in his letter dated 17th November, 1958, of and concerning the plaintiff. By the words used in the said letter the defendant No. 1, Jagat meant and was understood to mean that the plaintiff had misappropriated the said sum of Rs. 7,450/-and that the plaintiff had procured a false and fraudulent statement from Jagat by the use of threats.

18. The said letter has been written by the defendant No. 1 in his personal capacity and voluntarily to explain the circumstances under which he submitted the Bengali statement dated 4th November, 1958. From the languages of the letter it does not appear to me that Jagat meant or was understood to mean that the plaintiff had misappropriated the said sum of Rs. 7,450/-. He said that he wrote the said statement as dictated by the plaintiff and his brother but he was himself repentant for writing such statement and could never mean nor was understood to mean that the plaintiff had procured the statement by use of threats. He was under suspension from his service since November 5, 1958 and was very much worried about his livelihood and future. In that state of mind in his own interest he wrote that letter for the purpose of protecting himself from ultimate dismissal from employment. For Jagat's submitting the said letter to the defendant No. 2 I cannot hold that Jagat published those statements to the defendant No. 2 or to its officers and employees. In writing the said Bengali letter dated 17th November, 1958, to the defendant No. 2, Jagat was guided by his own self-interest and not by any malice towards the plaintiff. At the highest the statements made in the said letter may not be true. The said letter was not written by Jagat in the course of his employment under the defendant No. 2 nor as its agent.

19. Regarding the plaintiffs allegation of publication of the statements in the said letter by the defendants during the enquiryon 26th November, 1958, it is to be noted that the object of the enquiry held by the Board was to ascertain the truth of the allegations made against the plaintiff in the said letter dated I7th November, 1958. It was therefore in the interest of all in a public company and more particularly in the interest of the plaintiff, who had opportunity to vindicate his reputation, credit and honesty if according to him they were injured by the statements in the said letter and opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses at the said enquiry. I fail to understand how could the truth or the falsity of the allegations against the plaintiff in the letter dated 17th November, 1958 be determined unless the letter has been shown to the members of the Board of Enquiry. The evidence of the plaintiff before me in answer to questions 120, 121, 151, 183 and 301 has been that he himself saw the letter dated 17th November, 1958 for the first time at the enquiry held on 26th November, 1958 but he did not read it. In question 184 he said he did not see the letter himself. In answer to questions 185 to 187 the plaintiff stated that he did not know and could not say as to whether the said letter was shown to Mr. Stevens, the defendant No. 4, Mr. L. J. Gracious manager of the management department and to Mr. S. Mukherjee the manager of Gunny department. The plaintiff's own evidence therefore falsifies that there was publication of libellous statements to the officers of the defendant No. 2 nor the plaintiff has proved publication of the alleged libellous statements by the defendant No. 4 or by the defendant No. 3, Vlasto at the enquiry held on 26th November, 1958.

20. The defendants and persons to whom the said letter was shown all had corresponding interests in the subject-matter. It was necessary to show the said letter t' persons in the enquiry, in the interest of justice to find out the truth and, to protect the interests of all including the plaintiff who were the employees of the defendant No. 2, Rallis India Ltd. The publication of the statements in the said letter in the enquiry was in my view privileged. There is no evidence before me that Michael Vlasto, the defendant No. 3 had anything to do in the enquiry proceedings.

21. Mr. T.K. Bose appearing with Mr. Umesh Chandra Banerjee and Mr. S. Mitra for the defendants Nos. 2, 3 and 4 cited a case reported in (1892) 1 QBD 431.At page 442 of the report, Lord Esher, Master of Rolls, held

'It is true that, in respect of statements made in the course of proceedings before a Court of Justice, whether by judge or counsel or witness, there is absolute immunity from liability to an action. The ground of that rule is public policy. It is applicable to all kinds of Courts of justice, but the doctrine has been carried further; and it seems that this immunity applied wherever there is an authorised inquiry which, though not before a Court of Justice, is before a tribunal which has similar attributes.'

22. In the instant case also the Board of Enquiry was constituted by the defendant No. 2 with the object of finding out the truth of the statements made against one of its employees, in the interest of all other employees and in the interest of justice. Such Board acted bona fide and without any evidence of malice whatever against the plaintiff in the proceedings held before it.

23. In his evidence in answer to questions 34, 35, 37, 38, 43 to 52 the plaintiff fried to import malice of the defendant Nos. 2, 3 and 4 and mentioned, about an occasion of altercation with Vlasto over the question of his reduction of salary. It was the plain-lift' who lost temper in the alleged altercation but no evidence that any of the defendants lost temper. It appears from the letter dated 26th August, 1955, Exhibit 'A' that, the defendant No. 2 had been curtailing their functions in this branch, offered an alternative employment to the plaintiff with reduced and lighter duties under a fresh agreement. The plaintiff agreed to and accepted the same. It is very significant to note that if reduction in the plaintiff's salary and the attercation with regard to the same were indicative of the defendants' malice towards the plaintiff and if the defendants by reason of altercation were angry with the plaintiff since about August, 1955, and checked the cash every now and then, twice or thrice a week, the defendant 2 even after that in November 1956, appointed the plaintiff godown contractor and the plaintiff earned eight annas per ton commission on all goods of the defendant No. 2 stored in the godown and he continued to be such godown contractor until November/December, 1958. I have therefore not been able to find any malice nor any bad behaviour in the defendant Nos. 2 or 3 against and towards the plaintiff.

24. The allegation of the plaintiff against the defendant No. 2, Rallis and/or the defendant No. 3, Vlasto that they falsely and maliciously on 29th November, 1958 wrote and published to the Officer-in-Charge, Hare Street Police Station, libellous statements and/or concerning the plaintiff and/or concerning him in the way of his service and/or calling, a letter bearing the head line 'Misappropriation of cheque for Rs. 7450/-.' The said letter is annexed to the plaint and marked with the letter 'A' and has beentendered in evidence and marked as Exhibit 'G'.

25. From the reading of the said letter it appears that the same contains information lodged with the Police Officer and a request to him to investigate into the misappropriation of the said sum of Rs. 7450/-with a view to recover the lost money. By the use of the words misappropriation of cheque for Rs. 7,450/- or the mention of a departmental enquiry and as a result of which the dismissal of two of the employees in the said letter, in my view the said defendants did not mean nor were understood to mean that the plaintiff had misappropriated the said sum and thereby caused loss to the defendant, Rallis. Therefore, the said letter does not contain any libellous statements regarding the plaintiff and there could not be any publication of the same to the Officer-in-Charge, of Hare Street Police Station.

26. There is further allegation that the said defendants Nos. 2 and 3 made over and/or caused to be made over to the said Officer-in-Charge of the Hare Street Police Station and/or to other subordinate officers under him, the said letter dated 17th November, 1958, written by the defendant, Jagat containing false and malicious and defamatory allegations against the plaintiff. Though there is no evidence that the said letter was made over by the defendants or any of them to the Officer-in-charge and thereby caused to be published to the said Officer or his subordinates the allegations contained in the said letter, in my view the said letter dated 17th November, 1958, is a necessary document containing the statements of the defendant No. 1 regarding the incident in issue. The defendants stated that the said letter was made over to the Police at the instance of the Officer-in-Charge for investigating into the matter. I do not think that by making over a copy of the letter dated 17th November, 1958 to the police the defendants or any of them published or caused to be published any libellous statements, Mr. T. K. Bose, the learned counsel for the defendants drew my attention to two cases reported IB 43 Cal WN 775 - (ATR 1939 Cal 477) and in (1943) 47 Cal WN 627. In my view the information lodged with the police or letters sent to them to facilitate the investigation into a matter, should be at least a qualified privilege.

27. Another letter dated 20th December, 1958, written by the defendant No. 3 to the said Officer-in-charge, Hare Street Police Station with the headline 'Misappropriation of cheque for Rs. 7,450/-' is alleged by the plaintiff to have been written falsely and maliciously and published to the said Police Officer containing libellous statements of and concerning the plaintiff and/or concerning him in the way of his service and/or calling.

28. The said letter is annexed to the plaint and marked with the letter 'B' andhas been tendered in evidence and is marked as Exhibit 'H'.

29. The letter dated 20th December, 1958, however, refers to an interview of a Police Officer with the defendants and a request to the Officer-in-Charge to continue the investigation. By the mention of a full departmental enquiry into the circumstances of the loss and dismissal of two employees in the said letter, in my view, the said defendants, Rallis and/or Vlasto did not mean nor were understood to mean that the plaintiff had stolen or participated in the theft of the sum of Rs. 7,450/-. No mention of nor any reference to the plaintiff has been made in the said letter dated 20th December, 1958. Third person would not know from the said letter as to who are the two dismissed employees. I am unable to accept the evidence of the plaintiff that by the said letters, the plaintiff inter alia was meant by implication nor do I accept the plaintiff's evidence that the defendant No. 2 knew that the plaintiff did not commit any theft. Publication must be to such person who can know what the publication meant and to whom it was meant.

30. Information lodged with the police was considered to be an absolute privilege but subsequently it was held a qualified privilege. If the occasion is qualified privilege, the language of the privileged communication should not be scrutinised strictly.

31. In Jenoure v. Delmege reported in (1891) AC 73, the Judicial Committee at page 79 of the said report stated 'The privilege would be worth very little if a person making a communication on a privileged occasion were to be required, in the first place, and as a condition of immunity, to prove alternatively that he honestly believed the statement to be true. In such a case bona fide is always to be presumed.' In my view there-'ore, in publishing the statements contained in the letter dated 17th November, 1958, Sxhibit 'D' in the letter dated 29th November, 1958, Exhibit 'G' and in the letter kted 20th December, 1958, Exhibit 'H' that the defendants were actuated by mala fides must be proved by the plaintiff. The plaintiff has been unable to prove malice in the defendants. In this connection reference may be made to Halsbury's Laws of England (3rd Edition) Vol. 24, Arts. 137, 140 and 204.

32. Tn Watt v. Longsdon, reported in (1930) 1 KB 130 it was inter alia held that 'In order that a communication may be privileged the person making it must have an interest in the matter communicated, or there must be a duty, legal, moral or social, to make the communication incumbent on the person making it towards the person receiving it.' Therefore, where there is a duty to communicate to a third party, the occasion is privileged. So also when a person has interest in communication to a third party and the third party is interested in get-ting the communication, the occasion is privileged.

33. In the case of Tushar Kanti Ghose v. Bina Bhowmick, reported in (1953) 57 Cal WN 378 it has been inter alia held, 'The burden of proving an innuendo lies on the plaintiff because it is a part of the burden of proving that the libel was published 'of and concerning the plaintiff.' The learned Counsel for the defendants urged that the plaintiff has not formally proved Jagat's letter dated 17th November, 1958.

34. The defendant No. 1 did not appear to defend the action but written statement filed by him was tendered by the other defendants and marked as Exhibit 1. Mr. Seth appearing for the plaintiff urged that the defendant No. 1, Jagat did not appear and offer himself for cross-examination, his statements contained in his written statement are of no value. Further, he urged that his written statement does not contain any statement which is against Jagat's own pecuniary or proprietary interest. He cited a case reported in AIR 1938 Cal 150.

35. Mr. Amiya Nath Bose, the learned Counsel taking up the argument from his learned junior, Mr. Seth urged that the letters written to the police are very clearly libellous. The defence is privilege. But it cannot be a case of absolute privilege it may be a qualified privilege. The contention of Mr. Bose, the learned Counsel for the plaintiff, was that even the qualified privilege ha? not been claimed on behalf of the company. Before proving the claim for any privilege, a privilege cannot be claimed. None of the three defendants has laid any evidence : no one of the three defendants has claimed privilege on behalf of the defendants.

36. There is positive evidence of malice, the treatment of Vlasto and Stevens towards the plaintiff remain uncontradicted. And this evidence of malice discharpes that qualified privilege. Mr. Bose cited two cases reported in : AIR1959Bom443 and reported in 0043/1961 : AIR1961Pat164 respectively. His contention is that these cases have not followed the case of Ghose v. Ghose, reported in 43 Cal WN 775.

37. Mr. A. N. Bo.se, the learned Counsel for the plaintiff cited a case reported in 1904 AC 423.

38. The question raised by this appeal is whether a limited company is responsible for a libel published by its officer. Their Lordships of the Privy Counsil held that, if an officer of the limited company publish the libel complained of in the cowse of his employment, the company are liable for it on ordinary principles of agency. Although such officer may have had no actual autority, express or implied, to write the libel complained of, containing statements against the plaintiff which he knew to be untrue if he did so in the course of an employment which is authorised, the company is liable.

39. It is to be noted that tnere must be sufficient evidence of the plaintiff to prove that the statements of the employee complained of were made in the course of his employment in the Company, that he knew such statements to be untrue and further, that the nature of his employment warranted the authority of the company to make and publish the statements complained of. There should be a finding on facts to that effect. In the instant case there is absence of such evidence and the Exhibits 'D', 'G' and 'H' do not contain libellous statements concerning the plaintiff.

40. The next case cited by Mr. A. N. Bose is reported in (1917) AC 309.

41. In that case a libel was published It is for the judge to determine whether the publication was on the occasion privileged and whether the privilege has been exceeded. In the instant case I find that the publication of the statements are referable to the duty and interest of the defendants and are made, on privileged, occasion. The privilege has been claimed by the defendants 2, 3 and 4 in their joint written statement land upon construction of the correspondence being exhibits 'D', 'G' and 'H' and the circumstances in which they were written. I find that they are privileged and the privilege has not been exceeded.

42. Lastly, the publication complained of by the plaintiff is by the tender of the said letter dated 17th November, 1958 written by the defendant Jagat in evidence at the trial before the Chief Presidency Magistrate. Calcutta. The defendants stated that during the trial of case No. GR 375 of 1959 the said letter was proved by one of the State witnesses in the course of his examination as a witness. The defendants or any of them did not publish the statements in the said letter. In my view the publication if any, of the statements in the said letter dated 17th November, 1958, by tender of the said letter in evidence at the trial before the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta is immune from liability to an action on ground of public policy.

43. In the premises the suit fails. The plaintiff shall pay one set of costs to the defendants Nos. 2, 3 and 4. Certified for two Counsel.


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