RAJ KAPOOR Vs. NARENDRA ALIAS NARANBHAI NAGARDAS
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
NARENDRA ALIAS NARANBHAI NAGARDAS
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(1.)This revision application has been preferred by the applicant Raj Kapoor original accused No. 2 through his advocate Mr. H. K. Thakore praying that the proceedings in criminal case No. 19 of 1972 pending in the City Magistrates Court Ahmedabad be quashed and that the applicant be acquitted.
(2.)The facts giving rise to this petition in brief are that a film known as Kal Aaj Aur Kal under the banner of R. K. Production was exhibited in RelieF Cinema at Ahmedabad. The complainant Narendra @ Naranbhai Nagardas Desai who saw the said film felt that certain scene in the said picture was specially meant as an insult to the Bhangi community. He therefore filed a complaint under sec 500 I.P.C. against the deceased Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor as accused. After the evidence of the complainant Narendra Desai and two more witnesses was recorded the learned Magistrate framed the following charge against the accused :
" That you on or about the 51th day of February 1972 at Ahmedabad defamed Narendra alias Naranbhai Desai and Harijan community by screening a film named Kal-Aaj Aur Kal produced by you of R. K. Production containing imputations against community in general to the effect that the said community was lower in status than Brahmins and the said Narendra alias Naranbhai Desai being a member of that Bhangi community in particular intending to harm the reputation of the said community and Narendra alias Naranbhai Desai and you had thereby committed an offence punishable under sec. 500 of the Indian Penal Code......"
While framing the aforesaid charge the learned Magistrate seems to have relied on the evidence of the said Narendra Desai who seems to have taken exception to certain derogatory remarks made by Prithviraj Kapoor in his role as grandfather with regard to a Bhangi boy. According to the said Narendra Desai these observations were meant as an insult to the whole Bhangi community. With respect to the learned Magistrate he seems to have framed the charge without ascertaining the true import of these observations. The observations relied upon by Narendra Desai cannot be torn from the context in which they were made. In that scene while the dinner was being served to the Brahmins who were invited a young Bhangi boy playing round about happened to throw a ball at the place where Brahmins were about to take their dinner. Seeing the said Bhangi boy the Brahmins felt that their dinner was polluted and they refused to take the dinner. At that time the grand father whose role was played by the deceased Prithviraj Kapoor made certain observations followed by the observations of Randhir Kapoor who had played the role as the grand-son. Any one who has seen this picture would realise that it was a satire on the whole Hindu community which makes a discrimination between man and man. This picture instead of insulting the Bhangi community as alleged by the complainant Narendra Desai on the contrary wanted to pose a problem before the society that when the same blood was flowing in the veins of the members of the Harijan community as well as other communities there could not be any such distinction between Brahmins and Harijans etc. In fact the grandson played a role championing the cause of Harijan community and in that scene he had a hot discussion with his grand father who played the character of an orthodox Brahmin. The picture vividly depicts the difference in social outlook amongst the members belonging to three different generations and wants to show how the society slowly but surely has changed its orthodox outlook. In my opinion the producers could not have any intention of insulting the Bhangi community by depicting this scene. On the contrary their motive in producing this picture seems to be very laudable. The film was a satire on the orthodoxy of the Brahmin community. Thus in this film the producers wanted to show how preposterous and outdated were the views held by the orthodox members of the society viz. Brahmin community. In my opinion therefore this picture seems to have been produced for the purpose of public education and not merely entertainment. Any one who has seen this picture as a whole could hardly entertain an idea that the producers wanted to defame the Bhangi community as alleged by the complainant. When the picture was produced the complainant Narendra Desai could never have been in the contemplation of the producers. The producers could therefore have least intention to insult this Narendra in particular. Even if it is believed for the sake of argument that this picture contained some imputations against the Bhangi community in general to the effect that the said community was held lower in status in the eyes of the Bhramins that would not by itself amount to an act of defamation. The alleged remarks have not been directed against any particular group or members of that community who could be identified. As already stated earlier there is no imputation against the complainant as an individual. If he feels that as a member of the Bhangi community he was defamed that would not entitle him to maintain a prosecution for defamation unless the imputation is against him personally. The same view was taken in the case of Dhirendra Nath Sen and another v. Rajat Kanti Bhadra A.I.R. 1970 Calcutta 216 wherein the Calcutta High Court made the following observations :
"If a person complains that he has been defamed as a member of a class he must satisfy the court that the imputation is against him personally and he is the person aimed at before he can maintain a prosecution for defamation. In short the grie vance of the complainant should not merely be the one shared by every member of an organised society. Where therefore the editor of a paper writes an editorial which is highly defamatory of the spiritual head of a certain community an indivi dual of that community is not an aggrieved person within the meaning of sec. 198 Criminal P. C. The mere fact that the feelings of the complainant have been injured in consequence of a defamatory statement made against his religious head affords him no ground under the law to prosecute the accused for defamation."
As already observed earlier the impugned scene in the said film was general in nature. It was not directed against any individual or particular group of individuals who could be identified or particularised. In this connection it will be worthwhile to refer to the following observations made by the Supreme Court in the case of Sahib Singh Mehra v. State of Uttar Pradesh A.I.R. 1965 Supreme Court 1451 :
"The language of Explanation 2 to sec. 499 I. P. C. is general and any collection of persons would be covered by it. Of course that collection of persons must be identifiable in the sense that one could with certainty say that this group of particular people has been defamed as distinguished from the rest of the community. The prosecuting staff of Aligarh or as a matter of fact the prosecuting staff in the State of Uttar Pradesh is certainly such an identifiable group or collection of persons. There is nothing indefinite about it. This group consists of all members of the prosecuting staff in the service of the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Within this general group of Public Prosecutors of U. P. there is again an identifiable group of prosecuting staff consisting of Public Prosecutors and Assistant Public Prosecutors at Aligarh. This group of persons would be covered by Explanation 2 and could therefore be the subject of defamation. "
In the instant case the impugned remarks did not seem to have been directed against any group of particular people. No group of persons could be identified. Thus merely because a particular scene in the said picture objected to by the complainant depicted some orthodox section of Brahmin community uttering contemptuous words against Bhangi community in general that would not amount to an act of defamation against the Bhangi community much less against the complainant personally.. In my opinion therefore the learned Magistrate was not right in framing a charge against the accused.
(3.)In the result the revision application succeeds. The order passed by the learned City Magistrate 6 court Ahmedabad framing a charge against the accused is hereby set aside and the whole proceedings are quashed. Application allowed.
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