Vs. Thiru N. Ravi & Ors.  INSC 509 (6 March 2009)
APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 451 OF 2009 (Arising out of
S.L.P.(Criminal) No.1382 of 2008) Capt. S.D. Kathuria (Retd.) ... Appellant (s)
Versus Thiru N. Ravi & Ors. ... Respondent (s) WITH CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 452
OF 2009 (Arising out of S.L.P.(Criminal) No.1383 of 2008) Capt. S.D. Kathuria
(Retd.) ... Appellant (s) Versus Vikram Philips & Anr. ... Respondent (s)
ORDER Leave granted.
consent of learned counsel for the parties, the appeals are taken up for final
disposal at this stage itself.
appeals are directed against two judgments and orders dated 10th August, 2007
and 16th August, 2007 passed by the High Court of Delhi in Crl. M.C. No.3003 of
2004 and Crl. M.C. No.1639 of 2007 respectively. By the impugned orders, a
learned single Judge, in 2 exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure (for short `the Code'), has quashed the order of the
Trial Court summoning the petitioners before the High Court, (Respondents No.1
to 3 in Criminal Appeal No. 451 of 2009 and Respondent No.1 in Criminal Appeal
No. 452 of 2009) to face trial for offence under Section 499 read with Sections
107/34 of the Indian Penal Code (`IPC' for short).
the complaint against the said petitioners has also been quashed.
both the appeals arise out of the same complaint, these are being disposed of
by this common order.
to appreciate the controversy, a few material facts may be noted:
item titled "Crime and Harassment" relating to alleged harassment of
one Ms. Loveleen in her matrimonial home at the hands of her father-in-law and
husband was published on 19th January, 1993 in the daily Hindu newspaper. Ms.
Loveleen was married to the son of the appellant herein, namely, Rakesh
Kathuria (since deceased), on 10th January, 1992. Alleging that a defamatory
statement had been made by the father of Ms. Loveleen, namely, N.D. Chawla and
the same had been published by the newspaper without verification, a legal
notice was issued by the appellant and his son Rakesh Kathuria to the editor,
publisher, reporter, the newspaper, N.D. Chawla and Ms. Loveleen asking them to
explain their position with regard to the said article.
failed to receive any response, the appellants and his son filed a criminal
complaint against the editor, the publisher, the reporter, the newspaper, N.D.
Chawla and Ms. Loveleen, accused Nos.1 to 6 respectively under Sections 499 and
500, IPC. However, during the pendency of the said complaint, the son of the
appellant committed suicide on 2nd March, 1995. After the death of Rakesh
Kathuria, Ms. Loveleen got remarried. Subsequently, at the request of the
appellant, proceedings against Loveleen (accused No.6) were dropped. Vide order
dated 27th August, 2002, the Magistrate took cognizance of the offence and
directed issue of summons to the aforenamed five accused). The editor, the
publisher, the newspaper and the reporter filed two petitions under Section 482
of the Code for quashing of the complaint against them. As noted earlier, by
the impugned orders, the High Court has quashed the summoning orders as well as
the complaints against the accused Nos. 1 to 4. For the sake of ready reference,
the relevant portion of the impugned order is extracted below:
Having chosen to drop proceedings against Loveleen and her father complainants
cannot be permitted to indirectly achieve what they cannot achieve directly.
Loveleen and her father have been freed of all bondage pertaining to, arising
out of and connected with the matrimonial bond between Loveleen and complainant
No.2. In my opinion, they being the principal tort feasers, complaint cannot be
allowed to continue against the printer and the publisher or for that matter
editor of the newspaper who at best would be guilty of abetting the commission
of the offence under Section 499 IPC. My reason for so holding is that there
are no averments in the complaint that the petitioners published the offending
news item with an intent to defame the complainants. Charge against the
petitioners is, as per para 14 of the complainant, that they 4 did not verify
the truth of the allegations leveled by accused Nos.5 and 6 before publishing
the news item, it is further relevant to note that the complaint nor the
summoning order has proceeded on the basis that qua the petitioners case is
made out under Section 499 IPC read with Section 107 IPC or read with Section
34 IPC. There is no allegation of conspiracy, i.e., Section 120B IPC is not
the sole complainant is before us in these appeals.
heard learned counsel for the parties.
counsel for the appellant has strenuously urged that having regard to the
nature of the imputations against the respondents, the learned Judge was not
justified in quashing the complaint at the threshold and to hold that the
defamatory article was protected by exception 9 to Section 499 IPC. Learned
counsel has submitted that one of the factors which has heavily weighted with
the Court in quashing the complaint against accused Nos.1 to 4 is the dropping
of proceedings by the petitioner against Loveleen (accused No.6) and her father
N.D. Chawla (accused No.5). Learned counsel asserts that as a matter of fact
proceedings were dropped only against accused No.6 and not against accused
No.5, at whose instance the news item was published and, therefore, on account
of this factual error, which goes to the root of the matter, the order of the
High Court stands vitiated.
Gandhi, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents (accused
Nos. 1 to 4) very fairly states that as per the 5 order sheet of the Trial
Court, proceedings against accused No.5 were not dropped.
We are of
the opinion that in view of the aforenoted admitted factual position, the order
passed by the High Court cannot be sustained. It is manifest from the
afore-extracted operative portion of the impugned order that the learned Judge
was of the view that since proceedings against the principal tort teasers,
namely, accused No.5 and 6 had been dropped, the whole genesis of the complaint
vanished and thus, complaint against accused No.1 to 9 for offence under
Section 499/500, IPC could not continue. We feel that the aforenoted
inadvertent factual error about dropping of proceedings against accused No.5,
who is alleged to have got the news item published, had influenced the Court to
a great extent, resulting in miscarriage of justice.
therefore, of the opinion that this aspect of the matter needs to be
re-examined by the High Court. For the view we have taken, it is unnecessary to
examine the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellant on the merits
of the case.
the appeals are allowed; the impugned orders are set aside and both matters are
remitted back to the High Court for fresh consideration in accordance with law.
appeals stand disposed of in the above terms.
..............................J. 6 [ D.K. JAIN ]
..............................J. [ R.M. LODHA ]
March 6, 2009.