SANTOSH KUMAR CHATTERJEE Vs. RADHIKA RANJAN GHOSAL
LAWS(CAL)-1960-7-18
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
Decided on July 28,1960

SANTOSH KUMAR CHATTERJEE Appellant
VERSUS
RADHIKA RANJAN GHOSAL Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) THE petitioner Santosh Kumar Chatterjee who is the Printer and Publisher of the Bengali Newspaper 'swadhinata' has been convicted under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation cf an association known as the Students' Welfare Association or Chhatra Mangal Samity of Belghoria and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 30/-in default, to suffer simple imprisonment for 10 days. In the Calcutta edition of Swadhinata dated the 18th November 1957, there was an item of news published under the heading: "from our special correspondent", with the date 15th November, stating that activity of anti-social persons was causing of late an anxiety to the people of Belghoria and that security of the citizens had been endangered by murder, assault, theft on public roads, snatching of ornaments from ladies in broad day-light, insult to teachers and so on. There was a complaint that the Police were slack in taking action against such miscreants. The second paragraph of the news item contains the reference to the Chhatra Mangal Samity, and roughly translated the paragraph stated that because the Students' Welfare Association reputed to have been organised by the Belghoria Congress was hobnobbing with the Police, many anti-social persons had obtained shelter and the real culprits were not being punished, and that this had caused much discontent in the locality.
(2.) AFTER the publication of this item there was a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Students' Welfare Association and the meeting authorised the Secretary of the Committee to launch a prosecution against the Editor, Printer and Publisher of the paper styled as Swadhinata for defamation of the Students' Welfare Association and the petition of complaint was filed by Radhika Ranjan Ghosal, Secretary of the Students' Welfare Association of Belghoria. The petitioner who is the Printer and Publisher of Swadhinata was summoned in due course. The defence taken was that the publication was a fair comment on the laxity of the Police administration in Belghoria, and that there was no intention to defame the Students' Welfare Association of Belghoria; that the publication did not in itself constitute defamation of the Students' Welfare Association, and that the association could not be defamed by such a publication suggesting hobnobbing of the Police and sheltering of a number of anti-social elements. The learned Magistrate however rejected the defence contentions and held, in view of explanation 2 to section 499 I. P. C. that an association of persons like the Belghoria Students' Welfare Association' could be defamed, and that the publication constituted an imputation on the character of the association because it directly suggested that the members were themselves anti-social elements or associated with anti-social elements whose activities were described in the first paragraph of the publication Accordingly the learned Magistrate convicted the petitioner under sec. 500 I. P. C. and sentenced him to pay a fine of Rs. 30/- in default, to suffer simple imprisonment for 10 days.
(3.) MR. Ajit Kumar Dutt appearing for the petitioner has again urged the two points taken in defence, namely, that the publication does not per se constitute defamation of the Students' Welfare Association and that an association cannot be defamed by such a comment as is contained in the relevant publication.;


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