RAM SINGH BISHT Vs. LALIT PRASAD PANDEY
HIGH COURT OF UTTARAKHAND
Ram Singh Bisht
Lalit Prasad Pandey and Anr.
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Servesh Kumar Gupta, J. -
(1.) BY way of this revision, a prayer has been made to set aside the judgment and order dated 6.11.2008 passed by the Sessions Judge, Champawat, which was rendered in criminal appeal No. 7 of 2005, Lalit Prasad Pandey v. Ram Singh Bisht. In brief, the facts of the case are that respondent No. 1 Lalit Prasad Pandey is the correspondent of a local newspaper known as 'Paharon Ke Jharokhe Se', who reported a news item on 16.8.1999 which contemplated an alleged defamation of the revisionist Ram Singh Bisht, a local advocate of District Champawat. After exchange of notices from either parties to each other, a complaint was instituted by the revisionist in the court of Judicial Magistrate which culminated into the conviction and sentence of the private respondent u/s. 500 of the IPC for one year's R.I. with fine of Rs. 1,000/ -, in default of which, to undergo three months' additional simple imprisonment. The said judgment of learned Judicial Magistrate dated 9.2.2005 was assailed which was set aside vide judgment and order dated 6.11.2008, rendered by learned Sessions Judge, Champawat in criminal appeal No. 7 of 2005 and the entire matter was remanded back to the court of Magistrate concerned with a direction to provide fresh opportunity to the parties for adducing their evidence in the court and also to provide an opportunity to the private respondent for engagement of some counsel to defend himself. The judgment of the appellate court was based on the reasoning that the private respondent could not engage any counsel, inasmuch as, the revisionist was a Secretary/President of the Bar Association at the relevant time, much more a simple advocate there, and thus, on account of his influence, no counsel could be ready and available to defend him. Besides, the Bar Association of Champawat had passed a resolution condemning the private respondent for his attitude and behaviour towards the revisionist, who was a local advocate of that place. Because of this, resolution, notwithstanding the 'Vakalatnamas' by two advocates, on his behalf, were filed but none came forward, in the court to defend him.
(2.) LEARNED counsel for the revisionist has drawn the attention of this Court towards the order sheet of the trial court dated 21.5.2002 whereby the learned Magistrate asked the private respondent whether he wanted to be defended by any advocate, or engagement of some advocate at the cost of government, but Sri Lalit Prasad Pandey refused categorically that he need not to be defended by any advocate. This argument put forth by learned counsel for the revisionist albeit has some force but at the same time, the Court cannot be oblivious to the factual circumstances, which in fact had created an atmosphere of total hostility among all the members of the legal profession against the respondent.
(3.) THIS Court has also gone through the matter adverted in the newspaper as well as various other articles of the magazine, as are available on the record and finds that editor of the said magazine was the private respondent himself. This all publication is enough to manifest that the respondent is/was a man of extreme self respect and when such a person faced the prosecution in the court of Magistrate, which was launched by none other but the Secretary/President of the local bar association coupled with a resolution of bar condemning him, then he thought it better in a momentary passion of self respect to deny the offer of the Magistrate. It was probably for the reasons that firstly, he could contemplate that even if he answers in affirmative, in that case also, no advocate would come forward to defend him against the revisionist. On the other hand, if some counsel comes forward on his behalf, then also, his self -respect would be in jeopardy to stand before the said advocate always with folded hands and begging mercy of that Advocate all through the trial. Thus, these were the reasons probably the respondent could not understand the intricacies of his denial to engage a counsel at the offer of Magistrate on 21.5.2002.;
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