Punjab and Haryana High Court: Defamation Suit Can Be Filed Only by Family and Near Relatives of Aggrieved Person

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Excerpt

This case concerns the defamation suit being filed by the Respondent against the Petitioner. The dispute was whether the Respondent had the locus standi to file this suit.

Brief Facts of the Case

This petition was filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C., seeking quashing of complaint dated 18.04.2018, titled ‘ Sant Kanwar vs. Raj Kumar Saini‘, under Section 499, 500 and 501 IPC, on the file of the Judicial Magistrate Class I, Rohtak, along with all proceedings emanating therefrom, including the order dated 13.06.2018, in which the Petitioner was summoned to trial. 

The Respondent-Complainant, a follower of late Chaudhary Matu Ram Hooda filed the subject complaint against the Petitioner alleging that the Petitioner had published defamatory remarks against the late Hooda. 

Appellant’s Arguments 

The Counsel for the Appellant had contended that the Respondent had no locus standi to maintain a subject complaint and stayed further proceedings pursuant to the summoning order dated 13.06.2018. 

Respondent’s Arguments

The respondent contended that he fell within the definition of a ‘person aggrieved’ as his family was closely related to late Chaudhary Matu Ram Hooda, however, he did not claim to be a family member or near relative of late Hooda. 

Court’s Observation and Decision

Despite the service of notice, the Respondent did not choose to appear before this Court. Further, it may be noted that issue of maintainability of the petition under Sec. 482 Cr. P.C was settled in favour of the Petitioner as the inherent powers of this Court cannot be curtailed by the existence of the alternate remedy of revision under Sec. 397 Cr. P.C. 

Sec. 199(1) Cr.P.C. states that the Court cannot take cognizance of the offence punishable under Chapter XXI of the IPC, 1860 unless a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence. Chapter XXI of the IPC, 1860, deals with defamation. 

The statutory scheme, thus, indicates that the ‘person aggrieved’ must have an element of personal interest, being the person defamed himself and in the case of the deceased person, his family member, or near relative. 

Further, relying on the decision in the case of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh vs. The State of Bihar and another, where it has been observed that the person aggrieved is only the person defamed, however, there exists an exception in case of the deceased person, making family member or any near relative, whose feeling was hurt to be the ‘person aggrieved’. 

In the case of G. Narasimhan and others vs. T.V. Chokkoppa (1972), the Supreme Court held that the compliance with Section 199 Cr.P.C. is mandatory and if Magistrate took cognizance of the offence of defamation when the complaint is not filed by the ‘Person aggrieved’, the trial and conviction would be void and illegal. 

The Claim made by the Respondent did not stand as it was based on ideological consideration rather than any actual ‘relationship. Explanation 1 to Sec. 499, IPC, further, clarifies that only the ‘family member’ or ‘near relative’ of the deceased can claim to be ‘persons aggrieved’. 

This claim cannot be made by the Respondent as he was neither a ‘family member’ nor a ‘near relative

The Petition was therefore allowed, quashing the complaint dated 18.04.2018. 

Click here to read Raj Kumar Saini v. Sant Kanwar.


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