Sarvjit Singh Vs. Surinder Bhardwaj and Ors.

IN Judgements Database | 04/08/2018

 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH

Decided On: 06.05.2010

Appellants: Sarvjit Singh
Vs.
Respondent: Surinder Bhardwaj and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Sabina, J.

 

JUDGMENT

Sabina, J.

 

1. Complainant-Saravjit Singh filed a complaint under Sections 499/500/501/502/503 read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code ('IPC' for short) against accused Surinder Bhardwaj, Hari Jai Singh and Mandeep Singh respondents. Vide judgment dated 1.11.2008 passed by the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class Fatehgarh Sahib, all the accused-respondents were acquitted of the charge framed against them. Hence, the complainant-appellant has filed this application under Section 378(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure for grant of leave to file an appeal against the order mentioned above.

 

2. Brief facts of the case, as noticed by the trial Court, in paras 2 to 5 of its judgment, are reproduced here in below:

2. The allegations against the accused as put forth in the complaint are that the complainant is a respectable person of village Malikpur, Tehsil and Distt. Fatehgarh Sahib. He is the Lambadar of the village and is also a Committee Member of the Management Committee of Sri Gurudawara Sahib of Village Tarkhan Majra. He is a social worker and thus has to visit the local police of Police Station, Sirhind in the said context. He otherwise has no close relations with the police or the police officers of District Fatehgarh Sahib.

 

3. It is further alleged that the accused No. 1 is the correspondent of The Daily Tribune, Chanidgarh and is working as a correspondent at Sirhind, accused No. 2 is the Editor, printer and publisher with the said newspaper. Accused No. 3 is very close to accused No. 1 and 2 and he has political rivalry with the complainant as the complainant used to criticize his wrongful acts. Accused No. 3 was the General Secretary of Shriomani Akali Dal of Distt. Fatehgarh Sahib. It is further alleged by the complainant that accused No. 1 in furtherance of criminal conspiracy hatched between him and accused No. 3 got published a defamatory news item in the issue of 'The Daily Tribune' Ludhiana section on October 4th, 2001 at the instance of accused No. 2. The news items has been reproduced as under:

Strong resentment prevails among the resident of Tarkhan Majra and the surrounding areas over the alleged role of the police implicating two villagers in the case of burning of 'Birs' in the village Gurudwara. A large number of villagers today gathered at the Gurudwara where the akhand path is going on in connection with the sacrilege of the 'Birs' and criticized the role of the police. Even the women of the village defended the alleged culprits and said that it was injustice to them. They said the two were the only bread earners of their families and if they were not released their children would starve.

Mr. Mamdeep Singh, Sarpanch of the village and General Secretary of the District Unit of SAD, was upset over the implication of the village residents. Talking to this correspondent, he said that this was not the handiwork of residents of the village. He said the police had assured the demonstrator, who had blocked the GT Road, that the culprits would be arrested within three days, so just to save their skin the police had implicated the villagers in this case. He demanded an enquiry by an independent agency to probe the incident and the role of the police in implicating the innocent. He alleged that the police had implicated Rampal at the behest of Saravjit Singh, a tout of the police due to political rivalry.

 

4. The complainant also alleges that the accused intentionally and deliberately in connivance with each other and after entering into criminal conspiracy published and circulated the said defamatory statement and it was done intentionally to tarnish the image of the complainant and to harm his reputation as Lambardar of the village and to lower his image in the eyes of his relatives, friends and general public. These facts stand confirmed from the letters received by him from Amrik Singh lambardar of village Bhari Panaichan, Tehsil Nabha, Distt. Patiala. Manjit Singh son of Kesar Singh resident of Jandali, Gurmail Singh Patwari, President of Patwar Union Punjab, which was written to the complainant regarding the news items. The complainant also received telephonic message from his friends, relatives including Labh Sigh son of Bachan Singh of village Tarkhan Majra, Jaspal Singh son of Mastan Singh resident of Village Ladpur. Kulwinder Singh Rai son of Mohinder Singh resident of Chicago USA and Baljit Singh son of Baldev singh resident of Monteral Canada.

 

5. The complainant further pleads that by publishing and circulating the defamatory news item, the accused persons acted with malice because accused No. 1 and 3 had approached the complainant a number of times to falsely attest the affidavit, written deeds and Wills and they had also requested the complainant to falsely identify some individuals before the public servants but the complainant did not oblige them. On these averments, the complaint was filed in the court.

 

3. After hearing the learned Counsel for the appellant, I am of the opinion that the application for leave to appeal against judgment dated 1.11.2008 is liable to be dismissed.

 

4. The learned trial Court, while acquitting the respondents of the charge framed against them, has observed in the impugned judgment that from the news item, it could not be said that it referred to the petitioner. Parentage or address of Sarvjit Singh, mentioned in the news item, were not disclosed. It has further been observed that the petitioner himself was facing criminal trial in four FIRs and the witnesses examined by the petitioner were his co-accused in the said cases. Learned trial Court has further observed that it was not established on record that the respondents had conspired with each other to publish the news item with intention to defame the petitioner. There were other reporters also who have reported the news item and the news item had not been given by Surinder Bhardwaj individually. Hari Jai Singh could not be held to be criminally liable merely on the ground of his being the Editor of the newspaper. The petitioner had also failed to establish any enmity which induced the respondents to publish a false news item to the public with a view to defame him. The letters dated 5.10.2001 did not show that the petitioner had been defamed. The reasons given by the trial Court while acquitting the respondents are sound reasons.

 

5. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Allarakha K. Mansuri v. State of Gujarat 2002 (1) RCR (Criminal) 748, held that where, in a case, two views are possible, the one which favours the accused, has to be adopted by the Court.

 

6. A Division Bench of this Court in State of Punjab v. Hansa Singh 2001 (1) RCR (Criminal) 775, while dealing with an appeal against acquittal, has opined as under:

We are of the opinion that the matter would have to be examined in the light of the observations of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Ashok Kumar v. State of Rajasthan MANU/SC/0372/1990 : 1991 (1) SCC 166, which are that interference in an appeal against acquittal would be called for only if the judgment under appeal were perverse or based on a mis-reading of the evidence and merely because the appellate Court was inclined to take a different view, could not be a reason calling for interference.

 

7. Keeping all these facts and circumstances in mind, the learned trial Court had, thus, rightly acquitted the accused of the charge framed against them. No ground is made out to grant leave to file an appeal.

 

8. Accordingly, this application is dismissed.

 

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