download-judgmentSupreme Court of India has dismissed the appeals filed by journalist Rajdeep Sardesai challenging the summons issued to him in a defamation case for allegedly making false implication against a senior officer of Hyderabad police in connection with Sohrabuddin encounter case in 2007.

Judgment was pronounced by a bench of justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan which was hearing the Criminal Appeals of Sardesai and seven others associated with various publication or media houses, who were also summoned for allegedly defaming Rajiv Trivedi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crimes and SIT), Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Rajdeep Sardesai

Rajdeep Sardesai

Charges

Proceedings under Sections 499, 500 and 120B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 against Rajdeep Sardesai, who then the Editor in Chief of the IBN-Network 18 which runs English News channel CNN-IBN, were initiated for the remarks made in the  for the show “30 minutes- Sohrabuddin the Inside Story” which was run on the channel on 13 May 2007.

Observation of the Court

Bench held that no scope for its interference in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction as there was no substantial question of law framed in the appeals nor was there any miscarriage of justice for the appellants to interfere with at this stage.

It observed:

In our considered view, having regard to the nature of the complaint, the respondents [complainants] are required to prove the allegations against the appellants by adducing valid and cogent evidence, the same has to be considered by the trial court and accordingly record the findings on the merits of the case. The appeals are devoid of merit, liable to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed.

Read Judgment:


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.857 OF 2012
RAJDEEP SARDESAI                             ………APPELLANT
                                     Vs.
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH & ORS.            …RESPONDENTS
                                    WITH
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.853 OF 2012,
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.854 OF 2012,
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.855 OF 2012,
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.856 OF 2012,
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.858 OF 2012,
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.851 OF 2012,
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.850 OF 2012,
                                     AND
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.852 OF 2012
                               J U D G M E N T
V. GOPALA GOWDA, J.
      The present group of appeals is  directed  against  the  final  common
judgment and order dated 29.4.2011 passed by the High  Court  of  Judicature
of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad in Criminal Petition No.  1638  of  2008  and
batch matters whereby, the High Court dismissed all the  criminal  petitions
except Criminal Petition No. 7592 of 2007,  which  were  filed  against  the
order of summoning in various complaints filed by the Government  of  Andhra
Pradesh on behalf of the second respondent. The  following  table  would  be
apposite  to  clarify  which  appeal  is  filed   against   which   criminal
petition/complaint case:-
|Crl. Appeal Nos. before |Crl. Petns.       |Complaint     |Permission   |
|this Court              |arising from      |filed for     |given for    |
|                        |Complaint Nos.    |defamation    |filing       |
|                        |                  |under Section |complaint    |
|                        |                  |(s)against    |vide Sanction|
|                        |                  |appellants    |Nos.         |
|857/2012     (Rajdeep   |Crl. P. Nos. 1874,|199(2) Cr.PC  |G.O. Rt.     |
|Sardesai v. State of    |1590, 1646 & 1638 |before the    |No.6581 dated|
|A.P. & ors.)            |of 2008 filed     |Court IV,     |27.10.2007   |
|850/2012    (Sidhartha  |before High Court |Addl.         |             |
|Gautam v. State of A.P. |against CC No.    |Metropolitan  |             |
|& Ors.)                 |1/2008 - reg.     |Sessions      |             |
|852/2012         (Swati |telecasting a news|Judge,        |             |
|Vashistha & Anr. v.     |programme in      |Nampally      |             |
|State of A.P. & Ors.)   |CNN-IBN English   |imposing      |             |
|853/2012          (V.K. |News channel under|charges under |             |
|Shashikuamr v. State of |the caption “20   |Sections 499, |             |
|A.P. & Ors.)            |minutes-Sohrabuddi|500 and 120B  |             |
|855/2012          (Ahmed|n  Inside Story”  |of IPC        |             |
|Ali Shaik & Anr. v.     |on 13.5.2007 at   |              |             |
|State of A.P. & Ors.)   |1730 hrs.         |              |             |
|856/2012     (Hemender  |                  |              |             |
|Sharma & Ors. v. State  |                  |              |             |
|of A.P. & Ors.)         |                  |              |             |
|Crl.A.Nos.854/2012      |Crl. P. No. 264 of|199(2) r/w    |G.O. Rt.     |
|(Gulab Kothari & Ors. v.|2008 before High  |Sec. 200 Cr.PC|No.6582 dated|
|State of A.P. & Anr.)   |Court  against CC |before the    |27.10.2007   |
|and 858/2012 (Hemender  |No.3/2008-reg.    |Court of II   |             |
|Sharma & Ors. v. State  |publication of    |Addl.         |             |
|of A.P. & Ors.          |news item in      |Metropolitan  |             |
|                        |Rajasthan Patrika,|Sessions      |             |
|                        |Saturday Edn.     |Judge,        |             |
|                        |dated 12.5.2007   |Nampally,     |             |
|                        |under the Heading |imposing      |             |
|                        |“Vanjara Par      |charges under |             |
|                        |Kastha Phanda     |Ss. 499, 500, |             |
|                        |                  |501, 502 and  |             |
|                        |                  |120B of IPC   |             |
|Crl.A.851/2012 (Lateef  |Crl. P. No.1252 of|199(2) r/w    |G.O. Rt.     |
|Mohammad Khan v. State  |2008 filed before |Sec.200 Cr.PC |No.6580 and  |
|of A.P. & Anr.)         |High Court against|before the    |dated        |
|                        |CC No.24/2007-reg.|court of I    |27.10.2007   |
|                        |publication of    |Addl.         |             |
|                        |news items in     |Metropolitan  |             |
|                        |Siasath Urdu      |Sessions      |             |
|                        |Daily, dated      |Judge,        |             |
|                        |8.5.2007          |Hyderabad     |             |
|                        |                  |imposing      |             |
|                        |                  |allegations   |             |
|                        |                  |under Sections|             |
|                        |                  |499, 500, 501,|             |
|                        |                  |502 and 120B  |             |
|                        |                  |of IPC        |             |
Brief facts of the case are stated hereunder:
      A news item on various dates in the year 2007, allegedly making  false
implication  against  the  second   respondent-Rajiv   Trivedi,   Additional
Commissioner of Police (Crimes and SIT),  Hyderabad,  Andhra  Pradesh,  with
regard to the Sohrabuddin encounter case was published by the appellants  in
the respective publications and was telecast on  CNN-IBN.  A  representation
was given by the second-respondent to the Andhra  Pradesh  State  Government
seeking previous sanction under Section 199(4)(b) of the  Code  of  Criminal
Procedure (in  short  ‘Cr.P.C.’)  for  prosecution  of  the  appellants  for
offences punishable under the provisions  referred  to  supra.  Accordingly,
the previous sanction was accorded by the State  Government  vide  G.O.  Rt.
Nos. 6581, 6582, 6583 and 6580 dated 27.10.2007  in  favour  of  the  second
respondent permitting him to file complaints against the appellants  through
the State Public Prosecutor before the appropriate court of law against  the
individuals connected with electronic and print media as hereinbelow:
Siyasat Urdu Daily: Sri Latif Mohammad Khan
CNN-IBN English News Channel
Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur) Hindi daily
The Deccan Chronicle English Daily
The Etemaad Urdu Daily
(points (a)-(e)  are  hereinafter  referred  to  as  ‘individual  print  and
electronic media’)
One of the above mentioned news items which was telecast on CNN-IBN  English
News channel under the caption “30 minutes- Sohrabuddin  the  Inside  Story”
on 13.5.2007 at 1730 hours, which is subject matter of CC No. 1 of 2008,  is
extracted hereunder for our examination:-
“Police sources say Vanjara and Pandian nabbed Kousarbai in Bidar with  help
from S.P. Rajiv Trivedi  of  the  Hyderabad  Special  Investigation  Unit………
Rajiv Trivedi provided cars with fake number  plates  in  which  Sohrabuddin
was brought to Ahmedabad and then killed in a fake encounter.”
Pursuant to the above said sanction accorded  by  the  State  Government  of
Andhra Pradesh, the criminal proceedings were initiated by the State  Public
Prosecutor on behalf of the State of Andhra Pradesh against the  appellants.
The State of Andhra Pradesh  represented  by  the  State  Public  Prosecutor
filed  the  complaints  against  the  accused-appellants  for  the  offences
referred to supra. The Additional Metropolitan Sessions  Judge  before  whom
complaints were instituted  by the State Public Prosecutor,  has  taken  the
cognizance of the offences alleged against the appellants and passed  orders
summoning them to appear before the Court for  further  proceedings  in  the
respective cases.
Aggrieved by the summoning orders  passed  by  the  Additional  Metropolitan
Sessions Judge in C.C. No. 27 of 2007, C.C. NO. 3 of 2007,  and  C.C.  No.24
of 2007, the appellants filed Crl. P. Nos. 7592 of 2007,  264  of  2008  and
1252 of 2008 under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. before the High  Court  of  Andhra
Pradesh, seeking to quash the same, urging various legal contentions.
  The High Court after  hearing  all  the  above  said  petitions  together,
adverting to the previous sanction order accorded in  favour  of  respondent
No. 2 by the State  Government  under  Section  199(4)(b)  of  the  Cr.P.C.,
permitting the State Public Prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings  for
the offences alleged against the appellants  referred  to  supra  and  after
dealing with the contentions with regard to the  legality  and  validity  of
the said sanction orders read  with  the  Rules  and  adverting  to  various
judgments of this Court, allowed only Criminal Petition  No.  7592  of  2007
(M.J. Akbar & Anr. v. The State of A.P.) and dismissed  all  other  criminal
petitions holding that the news telecast in the electronic media by  CNN-IBN
and other news items published in various newspapers of the  appellants  per
se are integrally connected with the official discharge  of  duties  of  the
second respondent and held that whether  the  same  amounts  to  defamatory,
libel or scandalous statements is a matter that has to  be  decided  on  the
evidence to be adduced by the parties. The High Court further held  that  in
the absence of any privilege to the broadcaster on par  with  Section  7  of
the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, the appellants  cannot  claim
to quash the criminal proceedings initiated against them and  there  was  no
merit to  quash  the  said  criminal  proceedings  against  the  appellants.
Aggrieved by the common order of the High Court, these appeals are filed  by
the  appellants  raising  certain   substantial   questions   of   law   for
consideration of this Court.
  Learned senior counsel Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar appearing on behalf  of  the
appellants in Criminal Appeal Nos. 850, 852, 853, 855, 856, 857 of 2012  has
contended that the State Public Prosecutor cannot  make  a  complaint  under
Section 199(2) of Cr.P.C. against  an  individual  in  respect  of  whom  no
sanction has been  accorded  by  the  State  Government  as  required  under
Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C.
  It is further contended by him on behalf of the appellants that they  have
been summoned on the complaint instituted by the State Public Prosecutor  on
behalf of the second respondent on the basis of the previous sanction  order
accorded by the State Government under Section 199(4)  of  the  Cr.P.C.  for
prosecuting the individual electronic and print media involved in  the  case
on hand and not for the prosecution of any  named  individual  in  the  said
sanction order and therefore, there is no application of mind  on  the  part
of the State Government while according  the  previous  sanction  orders  in
favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings  under  the
said provisions referred to supra against the appellants herein.
It is further contended on behalf of the appellants that the High Court  has
erred in dismissing  the  criminal  petitions  of  the  appellants  and  not
quashing the criminal proceedings against the orders of  summons  passed  by
the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge after taking  cognizance  of  the
complaints filed by the public prosecutor against the appellants, which  are
not maintainable in law. It is contended by him  that  the  High  Court  has
also not considered the relevant fact that  telecasting  the  story  by  the
appellant is not in connection with discharge of  public  functions  of  the
second respondent being a public servant and this aspect of the  matter  has
not been dealt with by the High Court thereby, it has rendered the  findings
as erroneous in law and therefore, the same are liable to be set aside.
Further, it is contended by him that the High Court has failed to take  into
consideration  an  important  aspect  of  the  matter  namely,   the   State
Government while  examining  the  representation  submitted  by  the  second
respondent for according previous sanction as required under Section  199(4)
of the Cr.P.C. and All India  Services  (Conduct)  Rules  of  1968,  in  his
favour  authorising  the  State  Public  Prosecutor  to  initiate   criminal
proceedings against the appellants does not reflect application of  mind  on
the part of the State Government as they have failed to find out whether  or
not the comments made  against  the  second  respondent  by  the  individual
electronic  and  print  media  have  got  content  which   are   defamatory,
scandalous or libellous and whether the same warrant  the  State  Government
to permit such institution of criminal proceedings  against  the  appellants
under Chapter  XXI  of  the  Indian  Penal  Code,  1860.  Therefore,  it  is
contended that the above explained reasons would show  lack  of  application
of mind on the part of the State Government to the  facts  presented  to  it
and therefore, the impugned sanction order accorded by it in favour  of  the
second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings  against  the  appellants
under the provisions of Cr.P.C. referred to supra is vitiated in law and  is
liable to be set aside.
  Further, it is contended by the  learned  senior  counsel  that  the  High
Court has also failed to take into consideration another relevant fact  that
the criminal complaints instituted  by  respondent  No.  1-State  Government
against the appellants,  is  silent  about  their  role  in  committing  the
alleged offence of telecasting/publishing comments and  allegations  against
the  second  respondent  which  are  allegedly  defamatory,  libellous   and
scandalous.
 It is also contended on behalf of the appellants that the  High  Court  has
failed to appreciate that to arraign the  appellants  as  the  accused,  the
complainant ought to have  made  positive  averments  against  them  in  the
complaints and attributed a specific role to each one of them in  committing
the alleged offence, warranting  initiation  of  criminal  proceedings,  the
same has not been  done,  therefore,  the  summoning  order  issued  by  the
Metropolitan Sessions Judge and the complaints filed against the  appellants
by the State Public Prosecutor are not sustainable in law and are liable  to
be quashed. The learned senior counsel in support  of  his  contentions  has
placed reliance upon the following judgments of this Court in the  cases  of
Gour Chandra Rout & Anr. v. The Public Prosecutor, Cuttack[1], P.C. Joshi  &
Anr. v. The State of  Uttar  Pradesh[2],  Mansukhlal  Vithaldas  Chauhan  v.
State of Gujarat[3]  and Urmila Devi v. Yudhvir Singh[4].
Further, the learned senior counsel placing reliance upon Section 196(2)  of
Cr.P.C. contended that a specific sanction order is  required  to  prosecute
in respect of each person to initiate  criminal  proceedings  under  Section
120-B of I.P.C., the same has not been obtained by  the  second  respondent.
In support of this contention he placed reliance upon the judgment  of  this
Court in the case of Madan Lal v. The State of Punjab[5].
Mr. Aruneshwar Gupta, the learned counsel appearing for  the  appellants  in
Criminal Appeal Nos. 854 and 858 of 2012,  reiterated  the  aforesaid  legal
submissions made by Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar, the learned  senior  counsel  on
behalf of the appellants referred to supra. It is further contended  by  him
in Criminal Appeal No. 854 of 2012 that it is evident from the notice  dated
13.8.2007 that the sanction for  the  prosecution  was  sought  against  the
Editor, News  Reporter  and  Printer  and  Publisher  of  Rajasthan  Patrika
newspaper, however, no sanction was sought against the  Appellant  Nos.1,  2
and 3 in Criminal Appeal No. 854 of  2012  who  are  the  Editor  in  Chief,
Advisor and printer and publisher of the said newspaper.  After  perusal  of
all the documents and material  on  record,  the  State  Government  granted
sanction only  against  the  Editor  of  Rajasthan  Patrika  Newspaper  (the
appellant  in  Criminal  Appeal  No.  858  of  2012)  by  its  order   dated
27.10.2007, after proper application of mind. The application for  grant  of
sanction against appellant Nos.1-3 who are the Editor in Chief, Advisor  and
Printer and Publisher was specifically rejected  by  the  State  Government,
therefore, the criminal proceedings initiated against them is not  valid  in
law.
It is  further  contended  by  him  that  since  the  respondents  have  not
challenged the sanction accorded by the State Government  dated  27.10.2007,
authorising the criminal proceedings against the Editor and rejecting  grant
of sanction order against appellant Nos.1-3 in Crl. Appeal No.854  of  2012,
the  same  has  become  final,  therefore,  the  public  prosecutor  has  no
authority to file any criminal complaint against the appellants in  Criminal
Appeal No.854 of 2012 who are the Editor-in-Chief, Advisor and  Printer  and
Publisher of Rajasthan Patrika. He contended that  what  cannot  be  derived
directly cannot be obtained indirectly by the process of court  proceedings.
He further placed reliance on the decision of this  Court  in  the  case  of
Jagir Singh v. Ranbir Singh and Anr.[6], contending that in the  absence  of
sanction to prosecute a named person, the public prosecutor  cannot  file  a
complaint and the Trial Court has no jurisdiction to judicially  review  the
sanction order and issue summons against those persons  whose  name  do  not
specifically appear as accused in the order  of  sanction  accorded  by  the
State Government. It is further contended that this  aspect  of  the  matter
has not at all been considered by the  High  Court  even  though  the  legal
submission was made in this regard before it.
Both the learned counsel on behalf of the appellants  contended  that  there
must be valid and cogent material before the State Government for  according
previous sanction in favour of  the  second  respondent  permitting  him  to
initiate criminal proceedings against the appellants.  It  is  contended  by
them that the State Government should have examined the  facts,  allegations
and names of the accused and then should have reasonably  applied  its  mind
to conclude whether or not the reputation of  the  second  respondent  while
discharging his public function as a  public  servant  was  intended  to  be
harmed. Only  after  such  reasonable  application  of  mind  by  the  State
Government to the facts placed before it, the sanction can  be  accorded  by
it in favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal  proceedings  and
only then the court of sessions shall take cognizance  of  such  offence  in
the criminal proceedings initiated against the appellants.  This  aspect  of
the matter has not been considered by the learned Judge of  the  High  Court
while passing the impugned Judgment. Therefore, the  impugned  judgment  and
order is vitiated in law and liable to be set aside.
It is further urged by the learned counsel on behalf of the appellants  that
the High Court has erroneously held that under the scheme of Section 199  of
the Cr.P.C., the previous sanction is required against all such persons  who
have allegedly committed the offence and not  necessarily  against  specific
individuals in order to prosecute them for the offences committed against  a
person in respect of his conduct in the discharge of  his  public  functions
who at that time was a  public  servant  employed  in  connection  with  the
affairs of the Union or State. Therefore, it is contended on behalf  of  the
appellants in Criminal Appeal No. 858 of 2012 that the criminal  proceedings
initiated by the first respondent on behalf of the second respondent  should
have been confined to only against those persons  named  in  the  Government
sanction order for the offences referred to supra.
 Mr. Aruneshwar Gupta, the learned counsel for the  appellants  in  Criminal
Appeal  Nos.854  and  858   of   2012   further   contended   that   several
investigations were carried out pursuant to the orders passed by this  Court
in the Sohrabuddin case and on 12.5.2007, a  report  was  submitted  by  Ms.
Johri which finds reference in  judgment  of  this  Court  in  the  case  of
Rubabbuddin Sheikh v.  State  of  Gujarat  and  Ors.[7].  The  fact  of  the
investigation by the CBI in Sohrabuddin’s case was in public domain  and  if
that is published in the print media by the appellant (in Crl. A.  Nos.  854
& 858 of 2012), the same cannot be made the basis of any  defamation  as  it
has referred to the judgment  in  the  aforesaid  case  which  is  a  public
record.
It is also further contended by him that Rajasthan Patrika is  a  subscriber
of United News of India (UNI) which is one of the largest News  Agencies  in
India, providing news to several news papers in  India.  The  UNI  published
and broadcast the news item dated 12.05.2007 and the appellants in  Criminal
Appeal No.  858 of 2012, being the Editor of Rajasthan Patrika got the  same
translated in Hindi and published it in their news paper which is  allegedly
defamatory to the second respondent. It is further  contended  by  him  that
United News of India is the source and  first  broadcaster  of  the  alleged
defamatory news to its subscribers including the  newspaper  for  which  the
appellant is the Editor, who acted and published in bona  fide  the  alleged
offending news believing it to  be  true  and  correct.  Therefore,  in  the
absence of any prosecution of UNI, the appellant cannot  be  prosecuted  for
the offence of defamation as the same is covered under the Explanation 3  of
Section 499 of I.P.C.
It is further contended that freedom of  expression  demands  that  criminal
defamation in relation to publication of news items and articles may not  be
invoked in all the cases but should be limited to only exceptional cases  to
redress the immediate harm done to the reputation  of  the  individuals  who
have been defamed and shall not be allowed to be used  as  remedy  to  serve
the ulterior goal as the same will have a negative and  damaging  effect  on
the freedom of expression guaranteed to the press.
It is further contended by him  that  Section  499  of  I.P.C.  defines  the
offence of defamation as spoken or written, Section 501  of  I.P.C.  is  for
defamatory printing or engraving of defamatory matter  and  Section  502  of
I.P.C. is for sale of printed or engraved substances  containing  defamatory
material. Therefore, Section 499 of I.P.C.  would  cover  the  Editor  while
Section 501 will cover the Publisher and Printer and Section 502  of  I.P.C.
covers the seller. As the offences mentioned under Sections 501 and  502  of
I.P.C. are specifically distinct offences which are  against  the  Publisher
and the Seller, therefore,  the  previous  sanction  order  was  granted  in
favour of the second respondent against the Editor  of  the  Newspapers  and
rejected against the Printer and Publisher.  Therefore,  in  these  appeals,
the appellants cannot be tried for the offences under Section 499, 501,  502
of I.P.C. with the aid of Section  120-B  of  I.P.C.  as  the  liability  of
defamation is only limited to the Editor.
 In Criminal Appeal No. 851 of 2012, Mr.  Abhimanue  Shrestha,  the  learned
counsel appearing for appellant-Mr. Lateef Mohd.  Khan,  General  Secretary,
Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, who has allegedly made  certain  false
and baseless statements against the second respondent under  the  news  item
“Rajiv Trivedi-Hyderabad Ka Vanjara” “Fauri  Bharkhast  Karne  Ka  Mutalika”
published on 8.5.2007 in Siyasat Urdu Daily, contended  that  the  appellant
is neither the Publisher nor the Seller of the said Urdu  Daily,  therefore,
one would believe  that  he  made  such  statements  on  the  basis  of  the
information through electronic and print media. It is  therefore,  contended
that  in  view  of  the  nature  of  the  allegations  against  the   second
respondent, the appellant who  is  the  Secretary  of  the  Civil  Liberties
Monitoring Committee made the above statements  published  in  Siyasat  Urdu
Daily to make the public aware of the same. The  alleged  offences  are  not
attracted against him as the allegations in the complaint do not  constitute
any of the offences under Sections 500, 501, 502 and  120-B  of  I.P.C.  The
learned counsel questioned the legality and validity  of  previous  sanction
accorded by the State Government in  favour  of  the  second  respondent  to
prosecute the appellant in the  said  appeal  by  placing  reliance  on  the
decisions of this Court in the cases of Kartar Singh & Ors. v. The State  of
Punjab[8] and R. Rajagopal & Anr. v. State of T.N. & Ors.[9]
On the other hand, Mr. P. Vishwanath  Shetty,  the  learned  senior  counsel
appearing on behalf of the State has sought to justify  the  sanction  order
authorising the Public Prosecutor to institute criminal proceedings  against
the appellants herein, the same was accorded after applying its mind to  the
facts stated in the representation given by the second respondent  that  the
statements telecast and published in the electronic and print media  by  the
appellants were defamatory and affected his reputation and the same were  in
connection with the discharge of his public functions  as  an  IPS  Officer.
The State  Government  after  applying  its  mind  was  satisfied  that  the
reputation of the second respondent was harmed by printing  and  telecasting
the defamatory statements by the appellants herein. Therefore,  it  accorded
the sanction order under Section 199(4) of Cr.P.C. in favour of  the  second
respondent to initiate criminal proceedings  against  the  appellant,  which
provision does not speak of mentioning the names against whom  the  criminal
prosecution has to be instituted by the State Public Prosecutor.
He has further contended that the learned Additional  Metropolitan  Sessions
Judge, after applying his mind with regard to the allegations  made  against
the appellants took cognizance of the matter and issued order of summons  to
the appellants to appear before the sessions  court  with  their  respective
counter to the criminal proceedings initiated against  them.  The  same  was
stalled by the appellants herein by initiating proceedings before  the  High
Court and this Court. It is contended by him that the challenge  before  the
High Court has been rightly rejected after dealing  with  each  one  of  the
rival legal contentions  urged  in  the  Criminal  Petitions  filed  by  the
appellants, which do not warrant interference by this Court in  exercise  of
its appellate jurisdiction, as the  appellants  are  required  to  face  the
trial in the proceedings initiated against them by  respondent  No.  1-  the
State Government.
Mr. Pappu Nageshwar Rao,  the  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the  second
respondent, sought to justify the sanction accorded in favour of the  second
respondent by drawing our attention to the provisions of Sections 132,  188,
196, 197, 199  of  Cr.P.C.  He  sought  to  distinguish   previous  sanction
provided under Section  194  and  placed  reliance  upon  the  judgments  of
various High  Courts  in  the  cases  of  Master  Girdhari  Lal,  Printer  &
Publisher of Naya Bharat v.  The  State[10],  Pachhalloor  Noohu  v.  Public
Prosecutor[11], Sant Lal v. Krishan Lal[12] and B. Basavalingappa  and  Anr.
v. V. Narasimhan[13] in support of the  proposition  of  law  that  previous
sanction order by the State Government can be  granted  under  Section  198B
(3)(a)of  the  Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1898,  by  any  Secretary  or
authorisation of the Government in favour of a public servant  to  prosecute
the persons who have  committed  offences  of  defamation  against  him.  He
further placed reliance upon Section  308  proviso  2  and  Section  473  of
Cr.P.C., regarding the limitation for sanction and Section  484  of  Cr.P.C.
regarding sanction saving clause to justify that the  sanction  accorded  by
the State Government to prosecute the appellants herein is  perfectly  legal
and valid. He therefore urged that  in  view  of  the  above,  the  sanction
accorded by the State Government in favour of second  respondent  cannot  be
found fault with by  the  appellants  and  prayed  for  dismissal  of  these
appeals.
We have heard the  rival  legal  contentions  urged  on  behalf  of  learned
counsel for both the parties and answer the same by assigning the  following
reasons.
     With regard to the contention urged by learned senior counsel Mr.  Guru
Krishna Kumar on behalf of the appellants in Criminal Appeal No.857 of  2012
and connected appeals that the High Court has not considered all the  issues
raised before it in the criminal petitions filed by the  appellants  seeking
for quashing of the criminal proceedings initiated against them,  is  wholly
untenable in law for the reason that from perusal of the impugned  order  of
the High Court, it is clear that the sanction  was  accorded  by  the  State
Government under the relevant Government  order  in  favour  of  the  second
respondent. On examining the facts, circumstances and  evidence  on  record,
the previous sanction is accorded to launch  necessary  prosecution  against
the CNN-IBN channel, Siyasat Urdu Daily: Sri Latif Mohammad Khan,  Rajasthan
Patrika (Jaipur) Hindi daily, Deccan Chronicle  English  Daily  and  Etemaad
Urdu Daily. By careful  reading  of  the  provision  under  Section  199  of
Cr.P.C., read  with  the  All  India  Services  (Conduct)  Rules,  1968,  it
provides  that  previous  sanction  must  be   accorded,   authorising   the
initiation of criminal prosecution against the accused,  however,  the  said
provisions do not state that it is necessary to mention the  names  of  each
one of the accused who are alleged to have  committed  the  offence  in  the
same alleged transaction. Therefore, in the case on hand, when the  previous
sanction was accorded  by  the  State  Government  against  those  who  were
responsible for the telecast/publication of the news both in electronic  and
print  media  which  according  to  the  second   respondent   damaged   his
reputation, it is not necessary  for  the  State  Government  to  separately
issue sanction order against each one of the appellants, when they  are  all
responsible for telecasting  and  publishing  the  said  news  item  in  the
electronic and print media and also when the names of  the  said  electronic
and print media have already been mentioned  in  the  said  sanction  order.
Therefore, there is no merit in  the  contention  urged  on  behalf  of  the
appellants that their names have not  been  specifically  mentioned  in  the
said sanction order. The said contention is untenable in law and  therefore,
liable to be rejected. The same is accordingly rejected.
Further, the reliance placed  by  the  learned  counsel  on  behalf  of  the
appellants upon  the  judgments  of  this  Court  referred  to  supra  while
according sanction in favour  of  the  second  respondent  to  initiate  the
criminal proceedings against the appellants the  State  Government  has  not
applied its mind, this contention is also wholly untenable  in  law  as  the
exercise of power by the State Government under Section 199  of  Cr.P.C.  is
in the  administrative  and  ministerial  capacity  and  according  of  such
sanction is as per the subjective satisfaction on  the  part  of  the  State
Government. The learned senior counsel  on  behalf  of  the  appellants  has
placed reliance upon the judgments of  this  Court  in  the  cases  of  Gour
Chandra Rout & Anr. v. The Public Prosecutor,  P.C.  Joshi  &  Anr.  v.  The
State of Uttar Pradesh and Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhan v. State of  Gujarat
(all referred to supra). With regard to the above referred cases, the  first
two cases have not dealt with the exercise of power  under  Section  199  of
Cr.P.C., except stating the ministerial  exercise  of  power  by  the  State
Government while exercising its power under Section 198B (3)(a)  of  Cr.P.C,
1898. In so far as the third case referred to supra upon which the  reliance
placed upon by the learned senior counsel on behalf of the  appellants,  the
same is in relation to the previous sanction to be  accorded  by  the  State
Government for the purpose  of  prosecution  under  the  provisions  of  the
Prevention of Corruption Act. Therefore, none of the above  cases  on  which
reliance has been placed by the learned counsel on behalf of the  appellants
have any relevance to the fact situation on hand.
Having regard to the scheme of the Protection of  Civil  Rights  Act,  1955,
the complainant-second respondent during the relevant point of time was  the
Police Officer in the  services  of  the  State  Government  and  he  cannot
prosecute the appellants in  a  court  of  law  without  obtaining  previous
sanction from the State  Government  as  contemplated  under  the  aforesaid
provisions of Cr.P.C. Therefore, in order to prosecute the  appellants,  the
second respondent made a representation to the State Government  along  with
a petition with regard to initiation of  criminal  proceedings  against  the
appellants under the provisions referred to supra in  respect  of  which  he
has sought the sanction of the State  Government.  On  appreciation  of  the
same,  the  State  Government  in  exercise  of  its  administrative  powers
appreciated the facts of the matter, rightly applied its mind  and  accorded
the sanction under Section  199(4)  of  Cr.P.C.  in  favour  of  the  second
respondent to initiate criminal proceedings under  the  provisions  referred
to supra against the appellants. The  said  sanction  was  accorded  by  the
State Government after appreciating that the  statements  telecast/published
by the appellants  in  the  electronic  and  print  media  as  well  as  the
statement given by the appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 853 of 2012  in  the
Urdu Daily on the basis of which the news is published by its Editor,  which
are all statements defaming the second respondent while he  was  discharging
his public function as  a  public  servant.  Therefore,  the  contention  on
behalf of the appellants that there was no application of mind on  the  part
of the State Government in according the said sanction is  wholly  untenable
in law, liable to be rejected and the same is accordingly rejected.
Further, the contention urged by the appellants’  counsel  placing  reliance
upon the  aforesaid  judgements  that  the  act  of  the  second  respondent
allegedly  aiding  the  Gujarat  Police  Officers   to   facilitate   taking
Sohrabuddin from Bidar to Ahmedabad, has nothing to do  with  the  discharge
of his public  functions,  hence,  the  said  statement  in  the  news  item
allegedly defaming the second respondent being  telecast  and  published  in
electronic and print media do not attract Section 199 of Cr.P.C.  Therefore,
it is contended on behalf of the appellants that the  sanction  accorded  by
the State Government is beyond its jurisdiction as the said  act  of  aiding
the Gujarat Police is an independent act and it is not in  relation  to  the
discharge of public functions of the second respondent though  he,  at  that
relevant  point  of  time,  was  discharging  his  public  functions.   This
contention on behalf of the appellants is also wholly untenable in law,  for
the reason that determining the  question  on  whether  or  not  the  second
respondent while aiding the Gujarat Police at that point of time was in  the
capacity of his official discharge of his public functions or otherwise,  is
to be determined by regular trial after examining the  facts,  circumstances
and evidence on record.
The reliance placed  upon  the  judgment  of  this  Court  in  the  case  of
Rubabbuddin Sheikh (supra), contending that the fact  of  the  investigation
by the CBI in Sohrabuddin’s case was the subject matter  before  this  Court
at para 2 of the judgment in the  case  referred  to  supra,  therefore,  by
publishing the same in the newspaper by the appellants (in Crl. A. Nos.  854
& 858 of 2012) cannot be made the basis of any defamation as the  said  news
item was published after referring to the  aforesaid  judgment  which  is  a
public record. This contention urged on behalf of the appellants  is  wholly
untenable in law for the reason that at para 2 of the said judgment of  this
Court in the above referred case is only with regard to the  facts  of  that
case, whereas, the allegations made against the appellants  herein  are  for
publishing  and  telecasting  defamatory  statements  against   the   second
respondent, which question of  fact  has  to  be  examined,  considered  and
answered only after regular trial proceedings before the learned  Additional
Metropolitan Sessions Judge. Therefore, the above contention urged  in  this
regard is wholly untenable and the same is rejected.
Further, the learned counsel in Criminal Appeal Nos. 854 and  858  of  2012,
placed reliance upon the judgment of this Court in the case of  Urmila  Devi
(supra), in support of the proposition of law that only the  Editor-In-Chief
is responsible for the telecast or publication  of  the  alleged  defamatory
statements against whom the sanction order is accorded and that there is  no
sanction order accorded to initiate  prosecution  against  others.  Further,
the contention on behalf of the  appellants  that  there  must  be  specific
mention of persons in the sanction order against  whom  prosecution  can  be
launched and in the absence of the same, a single  sanction  order  accorded
by the State Government against all the other appellants  in  the  connected
appeals amounts to giving a wider  interpretation  of  the  provision  under
Section 199(4) of  Cr.P.C.,  which  is  not  the  object  of  the  aforesaid
provision under the Cr.P.C. This aspect of the matter has not been  examined
by the High Court; therefore, impugned order  is  vitiated  in  law  and  is
contrary to the provisions of Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C.
By careful reading of Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C., it  does  not  indicate
that in order to initiate criminal  proceedings  against  the  accused,  the
public servant needs  to  obtain  sanction  from  the  State  Government  in
respect of each one of the persons against  whom  the  same  transaction  of
offence is alleged  and  the  names  of  the  accused  are  required  to  be
mentioned  specifically  in  the  sanction  order  accorded  by  the   State
Government.  It is sufficient if one sanction is accorded to  prosecute  all
the concerned persons involved in that occurrence, thus, the  contention  on
behalf of the appellants in this regard is also liable to  be  rejected  and
is accordingly rejected.
The contention urged by  the  learned  counsel  Mr.  Abhimanue  Shrestha  on
behalf of  the  appellants  in  Criminal  Appeal  No.851  of  2012  is  also
untenable in law for the reasons  stated  that  the  appellant  has  made  a
statement on the basis of the news items  telecast/published  in  electronic
and print media. The same cannot be accepted by us for the  reason  that  it
is a matter that has to be examined by the trial court after  recording  the
findings of fact on the basis of valid and cogent evidence to be adduced  by
the State Public Prosecutor on behalf of the  respondent.  Therefore,  there
is no substance in the said contention urged on  behalf  of  the  appellants
and the same is rejected.
The learned counsel appearing on behalf of  the  second  respondent  rightly
sought to justify the  findings  and  reasons  of  the  High  Court  in  its
impugned judgment, placing reliance on Sections 132, 188, 196, 197  and  199
of Cr.P.C., inter alia contending that for prosecution of an accused in  the
case of defamation of a public servant, sanction can be accorded  under  the
old Section 198B(3b) of Cr.P.C.,1898, by any Secretary or  authorisation  by
the Government. He has also placed  reliance  upon  Section  2U  of  Cr.P.C.
which defines a Public Prosecutor as any person appointed under  Section  24
and included any person acting under the directions of a Public  Prosecutor.
The  learned  counsel  on  behalf  of  the  second  respondent  has  rightly
justified that the sanction accorded by the State  Government  to  prosecute
the appellants is perfectly legal and valid by placing reliance  on  Section
308 proviso 2, Section 473 of Cr.P.C. regarding the limitation for  sanction
and Section 484 of Cr.P.C. The  learned  counsel  has  also  rightly  placed
reliance upon the judgments in the cases of Master Girdhari Lal,  Printer  &
Publisher  of  Naya  Bharat  v.  The  State,  Pachhalloor  Noohu  v.  Public
Prosecutor and Sant Lal v. Krishan Lal and B.  Basavalingappa  and  Anr.  v.
Narasimhan all referred to supra. Therefore, the submission made by  him  is
well founded and the same must be accepted.
Further, the learned counsel for  the  appellants  by  placing  reliance  on
Articles 19  and  21  of  the  Constitution  of  India  contended  that  the
initiation and continuance of the criminal proceedings in the present  cases
hinder and hamper the very freedom of  press  which  is  most  precious  and
constitute an affront to the aforesaid provisions under the Constitution  of
India. The said contention has been rightly rebutted by the learned  counsel
on behalf of the respondents by strongly urging that the  reputation  of  an
individual is also equally important and that the said aspect of the  matter
must be considered after adducing cogent and valid  evidence  on  record  by
the Public  Prosecutor  before  the  learned  trial  Judge  who  shall  then
appreciate the same and record his findings on merits of the case.
In view of the aforesaid reasons, we are of the opinion  that  the  impugned
judgment passed by the  High  Court  of  Andhra  Pradesh  in  rejecting  the
petitions for quashing the initiation of criminal  proceedings  against  the
appellants under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is perfectly  legal  and  valid,
the same does not call for interference by this Court  in  exercise  of  its
appellate jurisdiction as there is no substantial question of law framed  in
the appeals nor is there any miscarriage of justice for  the  appellants  to
interfere with at this stage. In our considered view, having regard  to  the
nature  of  the  complaint,  the  respondents  are  required  to  prove  the
allegations against the appellants by adducing valid  and  cogent  evidence,
the same has to be considered by the trial court and accordingly record  the
findings on the merits of the  case.   The  appeals  are  devoid  of  merit,
liable to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed.  The  orders  granting
stay of further proceedings before the trial court shall stand vacated.
                               ………………………………………………………J.
                                         [V. GOPALA GOWDA]
                                         ………………………………………………………J.
                           [C. NAGAPPAN]
New Delhi;
May 14, 2015
-----------------------
[1]    AIR 1963 SC 1198
[2]    AIR 1961 SC 387
[3]    (1997) 7 SCC 622
[4]    (2013) 15 SCC 624/ 2013  SCALE 513
[5]    AIR 1967 SC 1590
[6]    AIR 1979 SC 381
[7]     2010 (2 )  SCC 200
[8]     AIR 1956 SC 541 : 1956 SCR 476
[9]    (1994) 6 SCC  632
[10]   1969 CriLJ P&H 1318
[11]   1975 CriLJ Kerala 1304
[12]   1976 CriLJ Delhi 215
[13]    1974 CriLJ Karnataka 66

 
 

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