Penal Code, 1860 – S. 499 – Defamation – Where defamatory matter is printed (in a newspaper or a book etc.) and sold or offered for sale, whether the owner thereof can be heard to say that he cannot be made vicariously liable for the defamatory material carried by his newspaper etc. requires a critical examination.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(J. CHELAMESWAR) (S. ABDUL NAZEER) JJ.

December 4, 2017

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.2059 OF 2017

(Arising out of Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No.1741 of 2017)

Mohammed Abdulla Khan … Appellant

Versus

Prakash K. … Respondent

J U D G M E N T

Chelameswar, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The sole respondent is admittedly the owner of a Kannada Daily Newspaper by name “Jaya Kirana” published from Mangalore, Karnataka. On 16.12.2013, the said newspaper carried a news item containing certain allegations against the appellant herein. According to the appellant, the allegations are highly defamatory in nature.

3. The appellant lodged a report with the Panambur Police, Mangalore, Dakshina Kannada District on 17.12.2013 against the respondent and another person who was editor of the abovementioned newspaper. Police did not take any action. Thereafter, the appellant filed a private complaint against the respondent and the editor of the abovementioned newspaper before the J.M.F.C.-II, Mangalore in PCR No.24/2014 which eventually came to be numbered as CC No.1252 of 2014. The learned Magistrate took cognizance of the matter on 15.04.2014 for the offences punishable under Section 500, 501 and 502 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

4. Aggrieved by the order dated 15.04.2014, the respondent carried the matter in Revision Petition No.219 of 2014 before the Sessions Judge, Dakshina Kannada, Mangalore. By the order dated 06.11.2015, the respondent’s revision was dismissed. Respondent further carried the matter in Criminal Petition No.8679 of 2015 to the Karnataka High Court invoking Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. By an order dated 23.11.2016, the said petition was allowed and the proceedings in CC No.1252 of 2014, insofar as they pertained to the respondent, were quashed.

5. Both in his revision as well as the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the respondent urged various grounds which according to him render the order dated 15.04.2014 illegal. The details of those various grounds are not necessary for our purpose.