Tripura High Court Acquits a Person Accused of Defamation Due to Technical Reasons

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Excerpt

The single bench of Justice Arindam Lodh of Tripura High Court pronounced the verdict in CRL REV. P NO.02 OF 2018. The court overturned the conviction of a person in criminal defamation.

Facts

The appellant was the publisher of the magazine Sandhyan Patrika. Sri Gora Chakraborty, a leader of the communist party of India felt that he had been defamed by a news article published in the newspaper and filed a complaint against him. The appellant was charged with section 500/501 of the IPC. The appellant was found guilty by the trial court. The sessions court upheld his conviction. The appellant approached the high court aggrieved with the judgement.

Arguments of the Appellant

Mr SC Majumder, the counsel for the appellant argued that there is nothing in detail about the defamatory statements in the formal statements made against the appellant. According to him, this was a primary requirement under Section 499 of the IPC which the lower courts failed to appreciate. 

Arguments of the Respondents

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Mr S Chakroborty, the counsel for the respondent argued that there was no need to reproduce the contents of the imputation in detail as they were well-founded in the newspaper itself. So the petitioner would be well aware of the contents of the imputation. He requested the court to uphold the order of conviction. 

Analysis of the Court

The court stated that mere publication of an article about a person does not amount to defamation. The court analysed a series of past judgements of the Supreme Court of India and High Courts. The court observed that in a case of defamation the accused is entitled to know clearly the allegations against him. The petitioner was legally bound to state clearly the parts of the petition which he found objectionable. The court referred to the case Konath Madhavi Amma vs. S.M. Sheriff (1985 CRI.L.J.1496). In this case, the Kerala High Court had held that courts won’t examine the merits of a defamation complaint consisting of mere allegations without any clear imputation.  In the entire complaint filed by the respondent, there was no statement quoted from the publication which was defamatory in nature. The respondent also did not make any reference to any such statement in his sworn statement before the trial court. Also, the court observed that none of the witnesses of the respondent pointed out how the article led to the lowering of the respondent’s respect.

Judgement

The High Court overturned the verdicts of the trial court and the sessions court and reversed the conviction of the accused. 

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Click here to view the judgement


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