The Mumbai Sessions Court last week dismissed a defamation complaint filed by Abhishek Trimukhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police filed against Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, Arnab Goswmai in relation to the statements made by Goswami about Trimukhe on his channel.
The Court ruled that complaint was not maintainable before the Sessions Court under provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Trimukhe had stated in his complaint that Goswami telecast malicious statements about Trimukhe on the channel ‘Republic Bharat’ after which it was published on their YouTube channel. The statements were made during a panel discussion pertaining to the phone records of Bollywood actor Rhea Chakraborty in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
It was Trimukhe’s allegation that during the initial investigation into the death of Rajput, Goswami had broadcast certain content about Trimukhe and Chakraborty, an alleged suspect in the case.
Trimukhe claimed that through the broadcast Goswami tried to create an impression that:
- the Mumbai Police including Trimukhe had made a deal with Chakraborty to wrongfully safeguard her from the police investigation;
- Mumbai Police leaked information about the investigation to Chakraborty to help her evade the process of law;
- Trimukhe had stayed in touch with Chakraborty “a month prior to the demise of Rajput.”
Due to this, he suffered loss of reputation and goodwill and stated that a good amount of time would be required to mitigate the loss.
Trimukhe prayed that the Court should take cognizance of offences under Sections 499, 500, 501 (criminal defamation) and 109 (punishment for abetment) of 34 (conspiracy) under Indian Penal Code. He also sought compensation from Goswami.
Additional Sessions Judge Uday M Padwad interpreted Section 199 (2) of CrPC, to state that the Section provided that the complaint had to be filed by the public prosecutor and no one else (including the person aggrieved by the offence).
“In the present complaint, the complainant is not the public prosecutor. He merely has filed the complaint of Shri. Trimukhe, exactly similar to what the prosecutors do while filing Appeals, Revisions and other proceedings on behalf of the State/Prosecution. The public prosecutor thus is nothing more than a medium to file this complaint,” the Court said in the order.
It is not that the aggrieved public servant has no forum to raise grievances, the Court remarked. The court stated that “he has the remedy to make a complaint before the competent Magistrate.”
“His filing the complaint even through the public prosecutor however, would not confer any jurisdiction on this Court to take cognizance of the alleged offence,” the Court held.
The Court further observed that the person against whom the offence is committed is procedurally termed as a witness who is examined by the Court. But since in the present case, the complainant and the person against whom the offence is committed are one and the same, it is not in conformity with the provisions of CrPC.