K GOVINDAN KUTTY K GOVINDAN KUTTY Vs. ALL INDIA ANNA DRAVIDA MANNETRA KHAZAGAM:T N SESHAN
LAWS(SC)-1994-12-86
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: MADRAS)
Decided on December 12,1994

K Govindan Kutty K Govindan Kutty Appellant
VERSUS
All India Anna Dravida Mannetra Khazagam:T N Seshan Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.)The petitioner K. Govindan Kutty is the author of a book titled "seshan, an Intimate Story" which purports to be a biography on the life of Shri T. N. Seshan, Chief Election Commissioner of India. The said book was released for sale to distributors sometime in the first week of October 1994. However, prior thereto excerpts from the said book appeared in the newspapers and magazines in circulation all over India including the State of Tamil Nadu. The book contains certain adverse comments regarding the late Shri C. N. Annadurai, a respected popular leader of Tamil Nadu. These remarks have been objected to by certain political parties of Tamil Nadu on the ground that they are defamatory in character. Ms Jayalalitha in her capacity as the General secretary of the aiadmk party filed a suit in the High court of Madras seeking a permanentinjunction against the publication and sale of the book in question. In the said suit she also sought an interim order which was granted to her ex parte prohibiting the release of publication and sale of the book in Tamil Nadu. The petitioner contends that based on a total misreading of the remarks relating to the late Shri C. N. Annadurai. political parties in the State of Tamil Nadu began vying with each other in raising protest against the book. The petitioner further contends that various other political leaders had also instituted suits bearing CSs nos. 1519, 1528, 1539 and 1635 of 1994 in the High court at Madras against the petitioner and his publisher. Thus, the petitioner is now faced with several suits more or less seeking the same relief. Even though Shri T. N. Seshan issued a public clarification in regard to the so-called objectionable references to the late shri Annadurai, the atmosphere in Tamil Nadu continues to be surcharged making it virtually impossible for the petitioner and Shri Seshan to defend the suits filed against them. Similarly, proceedings have also been initiated for certain so-called defamatory references to the late Shri M. G. Ramachandran. The High court of Madras has granted an interim order restraining the publication and sale of the book containing references to the late Shri M. G. Ramachandran. The petitioner, therefore, contends that having regard to the atmosphere generated in the State of Tamil Nadu on account of the whipping up of the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu, it is well-nigh impossible for him and Shri Seshan to come and defend the suit in Tamil Nadu. The present petitions have, therefore, been filed under Article 139-A of the Constitution for transfer of the suits to the High court at Delhi or any other High court in India
(2.)In the counter-affidavit filed by Ms Jayalalitha, the allegation that she was responsible for whipping up public sentiment; that the political parties in the state were vying with each other in raising a chorus of protest against the remarks made in the book pertaining to the said two leaders, etc. , are denied and it is contended that the remarks, to say the least, are unfair and motivated and insinuations made against the learned Judges of the Madras High court who passed the interim orders were totally unwarranted. She has also contended that the transfer of the suits from Madras to any other High court would cause great inconvenience to the plaintiffs. The transfer petitions, therefore, deserve to be rejected
(3.)At the hearing of these petitions on 21/1 1/1994 submissions of counsel were heard at length and it was thereafter suggested that having regard to the fact that the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu are stated to have been hurl by the references in the book against their popular leaders, late Shri C. N. Annadurai and late Shri M. G. Ramachandran, it would be desirable if the suits are transferred to a neighbouring High court so that least inconvenience is caused to the plaintiffs. Mr K. Parasaran. learned Senior Counsel appearing for Ms jayalalitha with his usual fairness said that if the court considers it necessary to transfer the suits in the interest of justice, he would have no objection but he emphatically urged that the allegations in the transfer petitions against Ms jayalalitha and others are not well-founded. It is not necessary for us to express any opinion on the question whether or not the said allegations are factually accurate but it is obvious that the remarks in the book in relation to the said two leaders seem to have hurt the feelings of the people and therefore it is not difficult to envisage that the atmosphere in the court when the suit are heardwould be far from congenial for a fair trial. We are, therefore, in the interest of justice and fair play, inclined to think that it would be desirable to transfer the suits to the neighbouring High court of A. P. with a request to the learned chief justice of that High court to assign the suits to a learned Judge of the High court for disposal. We are aware that the High court of Andhra pradesh does not have the original side but we think that the suits would be heard expeditiously causing the least inconvenience to the parties if they are assigned to a learned Judge for trial and disposal. This is necessary having regard to the time which a suit on the original side of the High courts of Delhi and Bombay take for disposal
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