Ramesh Chand Aggarwal Vs. State of Haryana and Anr

IN Judgements Database | 04/08/2018



Crl. Misc. M No. 30155 of 2010

Decided On: 23.08.2012

Appellants: Ramesh Chand Aggarwal
Respondent: State of Haryana and another


Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Hon'ble Mrs. Justice Sabina, J.



Sabina, J.


1. Petitioner has filed this petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short 'Cr.P.C.') seeking quashing of the criminal complaint No. 274/09 dated 3.2.2004/ 21.3.2009/ 20.9.2010 (Annexure P1) and summoning order dated 22.11.2005 (Annexure P2) alongwith all consequential proceedings arising therefrom. Learned Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the petitioner was the Chairman, Publisher and Printer of the newspaper, namely, 'Dainik Bhaskar'. Petitioner could not be prosecuted for the publication in the newspaper as in this regard the Editors working in the area were controlling the publication of the newspaper. In similar circumstances, the complaints against the petitioner under Sections 499, 500, 506 of the Indian Penal Code ('IPC' for short) were quashed qua the petitioner. In this regard, Learned Counsel has placed reliance on the order dated 1.4.2010 passed in Crl. Misc. No. 14177-M of 2009 (Annexure P3) and has placed on record a copy of the order passed in Crl. Misc. No.M-30154 of 2010 decided on 22.12.2011.

2. Learned Counsel for the respondent No.2, on the other hand, has submitted that the specific allegations have been levelled against the petitioner in para 7 of the complaint. Hence, the criminal proceedings against the petitioner were liable to continue.

3. After hearing the Learned Counsel for the parties, I am of the opinion that the present petition deserves to be allowed.

4. It has been held in State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal, MANU/SC/0012/1992 : 1992 Supp(1) SCC 335, the Apex Court has held as under:

The following categories of cases can be stated by way of illustration wherein the extraordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482, Cr.P.C. Can be exercised by the High Court either to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently chennelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list of myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised:

(1)Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complainant, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.

(2)Where the allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.

(3)Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do no disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.

(4)Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a Police Officer without an order of Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.

(5)Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.

(6)Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of aggrieved party

(7)Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceedings is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge. We also give a note of caution to the effect that the power of quashing a criminal proceeding should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases; that the court will not be justified in embarking upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR or the complaint and that the extraordinary or inherent powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the court to act according to its whim or caprice.

5. The case of the complainant-respondent No.2-Aako Devi, as per the complaint, in brief, is that on 23.10.2003, she was astonished to hear from the villagers about a news-item on the first page of 'Kurukshetra-Kaithal Bhaskar' published, printed, edited, sold and circulated in the area by accused Nos. 6 and 7 which reads as under:


6. The publication of the said news-item had caused great humiliation to respondent No.2-Aako Devi. The husband of respondent No.2-Aako Devi was still alive and was not supporting the family. The complainant was only getting 'Besahara Pension' from the Government.

7. Para 7 of the complaint (Annexure P1) reads as under:-

That the accused nos. 5 to 7 have selected and then published and sold the aforesaid false news-item in their widely circulated newspaper without any formal enquiry about its truthness. They have acted in a most irresponsible manner. They have not considered that the false news-item may cause a hurt and irreparable loss to the complainant. Before publishing or circulating the said news in general public, they even did not bother to verify from the office of D.S.W.O. Kurukshetera as to whether the complainant was getting pension as a widow. The accused nos. 5 to 7 are responsible for shock and humiliation to the complainant at the hands of accused No. 1 to 4 as such all the accused are guilty of offences punishable under Ss. 500, 501(b), 502(b) & 504 IPC.

8. A perusal of the above paragraph reveals that no specific allegation has been levelled against the petitioner qua his responsibility with regard to the publication of the news item in the complaint. It has not been alleged by the complainant that the petitioner was controlling the selection of material for publication of the news-item in the area to indicate that the petitioner was responsible for selecting the offending material for publication which had resulted in defamation of the petitioner in the eyes of public. As per the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867 (for short 'the Press Act'), the term 'Editor' has been defined as under:-

"Editor" means the person who controls the selection of the matter that is published in a newspaper.

9. Section 7 of the Act reads as under:-

Office copy of declaration to be prima facie evidence.-In any legal proceeding whatever, as well civil as criminal, the production of a copy of such declaration as is aforesaid, attested by the seal of some Court empowered by this Act to have the custody of such declarations [or, in the case of the editor, a copy of the newspaper containing his name printed on it as that of the editor] shall be held (unless the contrary be proved) to be sufficient evidence, as against the person whose name shall be subscribed to such declaration,[or printed on such newspaper, as the case may be] that the said person was printer or publisher or printer and publisher (according as the words of the said declaration may be) of every portion of every [newspaper] whereof the title shall correspond with the title of the [newspaper] mentioned in the declaration, [or the editor of every portion of that issue of the newspaper of which a copy is produced]

10. Thus, the 'Editor' of the newspaper performs various functions and duties and is responsible for selection of matter published in the newspaper. The petitioner is not the Editor of the newspaper. Petitioner is the Chairman, Publisher and Printer of the Newspaper and is residing in Bhopal. A perusal of the complaint does not lead to the inference that the news-item in question was published with the knowledge and consent of the petitioner.

11. It has been held by the Apex Court in The State of Maharashtra vs. Dr. R.B. Chowdhari and others MANU/SC/0085/1967 : AIR 1968 SC 110 as under:

The term 'editor' is defined in the Act to mean a person who controls the selection of the matter that is published in a newspaper. Where there is mentioned an editor is a person who is responsible for selection of the material Section 7 raises the presumption in respect of such a person. The name of that person has to be printed on the copy of the newspaper and in the present case the name of Madane admittedly was printed as the Editor of the Maharashtra in the copy of the Maharashtra which contained the defamatory articles. The declaration in Form I which has been produced before us shows the name of Madane not only as the printer and publisher but also as the editor. In our opinion, the presumption will attach to Madane as having selected the material for publication in the newspaper. It may not be out of place to note that Madane admitted that he had written this article. In the circumstances not only the presumption cannot be drawn against the others who had not declared themselves as editors of the newspaper but it is also fair to leave them out because they had no concern with the publishing of the article in question.

12. The Apex Court in Haji C.H. Mohammad Koya vs. T.K.S.M.A. Muthukoya MANU/SC/0240/1978 : AIR 1979 SC 154 has held as under:-

The intention of the rule is merely to clarify who the editor of the paper is and once this is shown then there is a substantial though not a literal compliance of the rule. Secondly, the Press Act does not recognise any other legal entity except the editor in so far as the responsibilities of that office are concerned. Therefore, mere mention of the name of the Chief Editor is neither here nor there nor does it in any way attract the provisions of the Press Act particularly Section 7. Thirdly, it is not even pleaded in the petition, much less proved that the appellant being the Chief Editor, it was part of his duty to edit the paper and control the selection of the matter that was published in the newspaper which in fact has been demonstrably disproved by the appellant."

13. In H.K. Dua vs. Chander Mohan Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana 2008(3) RCR (Criminal) 64, it has been held as under:

From the foregoing discussions the legal position boils out that petitioner as an Editor-in-Chief of the Dainik Tribune did not fall within the expression 'editor' in the Press Act and no presumption under Section 7 of the Press Act could be raised that he was responsible to control selection of the matter that was published in the news item. If no such presumption could be raised, then there remains no evidence or basis for criminal prosecution of the petitioner as stated earlier. The petitioner was impleaded as an accused merely on the ground of his being "Editor-in-chief" of "Dainik Tribune" without any other averment in the complaint that he controlled selection of the matter that was published in the news item.

14. Similar complaints qua the petitioner were quashed by this Court vide order dated 1.4.2010 in Crl.Misc. No.14177-M of 2009 (Annexure P3) and order dated 22.12.2011 in Crl. Misc. No. M-30154 of 2010. Accordingly, this petition is allowed. Criminal Complaint 274/09 dated 3.2.2004/ 21.3.2009/ 20.9.2010 (Annexure P1) and all subsequent proceedings arising therefrom including the summoning order dated 22.11.2005 (Annexure P2) qua the petitioner are quashed.


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