1. The Managing Director of a company which owns a television channel has filed this application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short 'the Code') for quashing the criminal prosecution initiated against him for committing the offences punishable under Sections 500,501 and 502 of the Indian Penal Code.2. The petitioner is the fourth accused in the case S.T.No.29/2016 pending in the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram.3. The aforesaid case is one instituted upon the complaint filed by the first respondent (hereinafter referred to also as 'the complainant') against nine persons including the petitioner. The material averments in the complaint are as follows: The complainant was the Additional Sub Inspector of the Pathanamthitta Police Station. On 16.03.2015, when he was checking vehicles at the M.L.A Road at Chemmannur, he stopped the motor cycle driven by the first accused. The second accused was the pillion rider of the motor cycle. The complainant directed the first accused to pay a fine of Rs.100/- for not wearing the helmet while riding the motor cycle. He paid the amount and received the receipt but a wordy altercation took place. The first and the second accused told the complainant that they were persons from a television channel and they threatened him. The second accused took video pictures of the complainant. On that day, at 13:30 hours, visuals of the complainant opening the zipper of his trouser in front of the first and the second accused were telecast in the Fox television channel with the caption “hero of the blue film”. The complainant had not committed any such act. The telecast was repeated on several days in the aforesaid television channel with a view to defame the complainant.4. The first and the second accused are the videographers of 'Punalur Live Channel'. The third accused is the Managing Director of 'Punalur Fox Channel'. The fourth and the sixth accused telecast the video pictures with the intention to defame the complainant. The fifth accused is the person who reported the news on behalf of the Kairali T.V. The seventh accused published the news, with the photograph of the complainant, in the Deshabhimani newspaper on 24.08.2015. Accused 8 and 9 have taken video pictures of the complainant at the time of accompanying a Minister and published the same in the television channels in the gulf countries with the caption “hero of the blue film accompanying the Minister”. Therefore, it is alleged that the accused have committed the offences punishable under Sections 500,501 and 502 read with 34 IPC.5. This application under Section 482 of the Code is filed by the fourth accused for quashing the complaint filed by the first respondent and all further proceedings based on the complaint.6. Learned counsel for the first respondent/complainant was continuously absent on the hearing dates. The records would show that, inspite of giving notice to the learned counsel regarding the posting of the case for final hearing, she did not appear. In such circumstances, I heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and the learned Public Prosecutor and reserved the case for orders. The case was included in the daily list on 22.02.2021 for pronouncing orders. Then, the learned counsel for the first respondent appeared before the court. I have heard the submissions made by the learned counsel for the first respondent also on that day.7. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner is arrayed as an accused on the ground that he is the Managing Director of the Kairali T.V. Learned counsel would contend that the company by name Malayalam Communications Limited (for short 'the company') which owns Kairali T.V is a separate legal entity and the alleged offences were committed by the company but it is not made an accused in the case. Learned counsel would contend that, without impleading the company as an accused, the petitioner cannot be arrayed as an accused in the case in his capacity as the Managing Director of the company. Learned counsel also contended that the complaint does not contain facts or allegations attracting the ingredients of the offences alleged against the petitioner.8. Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code provides that, whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases where exceptions are provided, to defame that person.9. In the instant case, there is a specific allegation that video pictures of the complainant were telecast in the television channels with the caption “hero of the blue film”. The alleged publication is per se defamatory, attracting the ingredients of the offence of defamation which is punishable under Section 500 IPC.10. However, the question to be decided is whether the complaint contains any facts or allegations which constitute the ingredients of the offence under Section 499 IPC as against the petitioner herein.11. There is no allegation in the complaint that the petitioner printed or sold or offered for sale any defamatory matter against the complainant. Therefore, the ingredients of the offences punishable under Sections 501 and 502 IPC are not attracted against the petitioner.12. As far as the petitioner is concerned, the allegation in the complaint is that he repeatedly telecast the video pictures of the complainant in the television channels. It is only in the cause title of the complaint it is stated that the petitioner is the Managing Director of Kariali T.V, which is owned by the company 'Malayalam Communications Limited'.13. There is no specific allegation in the complaint that the petitioner telecast the video pictures of the complainant in the Kairali T.V. There is also no allegation in the complaint that the petitioner herein was responsible for telecasting the defamatory matter against the complainant in Kairali T.V.14. Even as per the complaint, the petitioner is only the Managing Director of the company which owns Kairali T.V. He cannot be held liable for the publication of the defamatory matter against the complainant in the Kairali T.V, in the absence of any specific allegation that he was personally or individually responsible for telecasting it in the channel.15. In M.M.Hassan V. State of Kerala: (2016 SCC OnLine Ker 16925), this Court had occasion to hold as follows:“In the present case, it is blatantly obvious that there is no allegation against the present petitioner that he was having knowledge of the publication of such imputation or that he was directly responsible for publication of such imputation. The Managing Director is supposed to have the control over the management of the television channel and its financial aspects. He is not directly concerned with the airing of the news items and unless there are materials to come to such a conclusion, he cannot be roped in for having committed the offence under Section 499 of the IPC. Principles of vicarious liability is not applicable to criminal offences and in the absence of any provision laid down in the statute, the Managing Director cannot be held vicariously liable for the offence committed by the company or its employees. Merely because the accused happened to be the Managing Director of the T.V news channel, no criminal case can lie against him for offence punishable under Section 500 of the IPC.”The above observations in M.M.Hassan (supra) squarely apply to the facts of the present case.16. Learned counsel for the first respondent contended that the petitioner is the Editor of the Kairali T.V and he was responsible for the selection of the news items and programmes which were telecast in that television channel. However, there is no allegation or averment in the complaint that the petitioner was the Editor of the Kairali T.V channel at the relevant time. Even in the cause title of the complaint the petitioner is not shown as the Editor of that television channel.17. It is incumbent upon the complainant to make specific allegations as to how and on what basis each of the accused has committed the offences alleged. Merely because an accused happens to be the Managing Director of a company, it would not make him vicariously liable for the acts of the employees of the company. Distinct and separate allegation qua each of the accused as to how he is responsible or as to his specific role in the commission of the offence has to be made
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
in the complaint.18. In the instant case, the complainant has failed to make positive averments against the petitioner in the complaint and attribute to him any specific role in committing the alleged offence. It is not stated as to how the petitioner was involved or was responsible for the broadcast of the defamatory matter against the complainant. Merely because a person is alleged to be the Managing Director of a company which owns a television channel, he cannot be held responsible for defamation on account of broadcasting defamatory material unless it is specifically alleged that he is personally or individually responsible for such publication.19. The discussion above leads to the conclusion that the complaint against the petitioner is liable to be quashed.20. Consequently, the petition is allowed. Annexure-A complaint as far as it relates to the petitioner alone and all proceedings taken against him on the basis of it, are hereby quashed.