Prinsep and Macpherson, JJ.
1. This is a suit for damages on account of slander of the plaintiff by the defendant, inasmuch as the defendant maliciously, in the presence of a large number of villagers, said that the plaintiff was a pode, he being known not to be a pode but a kyasta. In consequence of this it is stated that the plaintiff has lost his social position, his neighbours of his own caste refusing to associate with him, and his priest refusing to perform the usual religious ceremonies.
2. The facts alleged1 have been found by both the lower Courts.
3. The Munsif dismissed the suit, because he found that the slander was confidentially and in good faith communicated to the priest as a caution, and that the publicity given to it was in consequence of the plaintiff's act in assembling the villagers in order that he might in their presence challenge the defendant to repeat the observation.
4. The Subordinate Judge on appeal found that the defendant had acted maliciously in consequence of a quarrel between him and the plaintiff, and he also found that the injury so done to the plaintiff socially and mentally according to a Hindu point of view, was such as would entitle him to damages. He accordingly set aside the order of the lower Court.
5. The Subordinate Judge has not considered the point raised on appeal before us that no action for slander will lie without proof of special damages estimated in money, although this point was raised before him on the cross-appeal of the defendant. There is no special law in this respect for India, beyond what is contained in the Penal Code, regarding the offence of defamation, and the few reported cases bearing on the point are not altogether consistent.
6. The point has been very recently discussed in Parvathi v. Mannai I.L.R. 8 Mad. 175 where all these cases have been cited and considered. We concur in the opinion there expressed which is in accordance with the latest decision on the subject in this Court in the case of Srikant Rai v. Satcouri Saha 3 C.L.R. 181. Although we think that actions for verbal slander should not be encouraged, we find it impossible to hold, having regard to the customs amongst Hindus, that on the facts found by the lower Appellate Court, plaintiff has not suffered seriously from the slander of the defendant, inasmuch as his social position has been materially affected by the suspicion cast upon him, and his priest has refused to perform the usual rites and ceremonies for him.
7. The damages awarded are moderate. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed with costs.