Delhi High Court Quashes The Defamation Case Against Mitali Saran And Others; Complainant Fails To Produce Evidence Supporting His Claims.
- The Delhi High Court quashed the criminal defamation case filed against Business Standard, journalist Mitali Saran on Monday.
- The defamation case was filed due to her alleged defamation article about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the members.
- The single judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observed that the complainant, who is also an advocate by profession, failed to prove how he is an aggrieved person due to the said article.
- The complainant Lohitaksha Shukla had filed a criminal defamation case against the newspaper Business Standard- author of article Mitali Saran, and also the editorial director AK Bhattacharya for publishing an article named "The long and Short of it" in March 2016.
- Shukla stated in his complaint that the facts of the article were false, not based on real events and also contained defamatory statements against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its members.
- He also alleged that as a Swayamsevak of RSS, his reputation was affected due to the defamation insinuations. The Court summoned the respondents, due to these claims.
- The respondents challenged these proceedings by stating that this was a complete abuse of the process of law, and that this complaint was only filed with the intention of harassing the respondents. It was also observed that Shukla did not satisfy the definition of "person aggrieved" under Section 199(1) of CrPC.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
The court opined that as per Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code-
- "In the present case, the complainant has not led any evidence to establish how his reputation was harmed or his moral or intellectual character was lowered as a result of the said article. However, he has claimed that he has been asked by his friends to leave RSS as a result of this article but he has not brought anyone in the witness box in support of this assertion and thereby, has failed to prove that article brought any kind of defamation to him or that it has lowered the reputation of RSS in the eyes of his friends or RSS. So, the trial court has erred in not applying its mind on this aspect."
- The Court also stated that the complainant failed to bring in any witnesses or produce evidence containing any damage to reputation because of the article, and also observed that the Court will only recognise the defamation as an offence if the person is aggrieved, as per Section 199(1) of CrPC.
- Such a provision prevents, or limits the magistrate's powers to take cognizance of offences like defamation, and also prohibits people from filing complaints, even though the alleged defamation is not really distressing to the complainant.
- Since the complainant failed to prove that he was aggrieved in any way, and also failed to produce witnesses or evidence to prove the same, the Delhi High Court quashed the criminal defamation case against the journalist Mitali Saran and others.
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