Kerala High Court's Order wherein it was observed that complaint filed by the State Secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against a defamatory article published in a newspaper about the RSS is maintainable under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 , was upheld by The Supreme Court of India, on Friday i.e. 25th March’2022.
The decision was given by the bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose while considering the present Special leave petition against High Court’s order passed by the Bench of Justice Sophy Thomas.
“...when an article is published in a newspaper containing imputations meant to harm the reputation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), complaint by individual member of RSS is maintainable under Explanation 2 to Section 499 of IPC. It is not necessary that the imputations in the article individually affected the reputation of the complainant.
"The Court noted that Section 199 of CrPC contains a ban that no court shall take cognizance of the offence of defamation except upon a complaint made by some persons aggrieved by the offence".
It was found that a class of persons as such cannot be defamed as a class, nor could an individual be defamed by a general reference to a class to which he belongs.
It was laid down that if a well-defined class is defamed, each and every member of that class has the right to file a complaint. Emphasis was given to explanation 2 to Section 499 of IPC, 1860.
"Since Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a definite and identifiable body as held by the High Court of Allahabad and asserted by the Apex Court vide decisions cited supra, the contention of the petitioners that the 1st respondent (State Secretary) has no locus standi to maintain a complaint under Section 500 of IPC is not tenable", the High Court had observed while dismissing the plea to quash the proceedings.
Case Title: MATHRUBHOOMI PRINTING AND PUBLISHING CO. LTD. & ORS. v P. GOPALANKUTTY & ANR.|
Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No. 2368