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R. Raghavan, Partner of Dinamalar Group, Dinamalar (RF) New Standard Press Annex, Trichy & Others v/s Educomp Solutions Ltd, Through its Senior Manager Nithish Kumar & Others

    Crl.O.P.(MD)Nos. 17560, 17562, 17561 & 17563 of 2016 & Crl.M.P(MD) Nos. 8732, 8733, 8730, 8731, 8733, 8734, 8723 & 8724 of 2016

    Decided On, 19 March 2020

    At, Before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court

    By, THE HONOURABLE DR. JUSTICE G. JAYACHANDRAN

    For the Petitioners: A.R.M. Ramesh, Advocate. For the Respondents: K. Muthumalai, Advocate.



Judgment Text


(Common Prayer: Criminal Petition filed under Section 482 of Cr.P.C., to call for the records relating to the impugned proceedings in C.C.Nos.147 and 148 of 2016 on the file of the learned Judicial Magistrate No.V, Madurai and quash the same.)

Common Order

1. These petitions have been filed to call for the records relating to the impugned proceedings in C.C.Nos.147 and 148 of 2016 on the file of the learned Judicial Magistrate No.V, Madurai and quash the same.

2. The learned counsel for the respondents filed memo stating that he is withdrawing the memo of appearance filed on behalf of the respondents stating that the respondents have gone out of contact and unable to communicate.

3. The petitioners herein are the partners of Dinamalar group for publishing Tamil daily. The respondents are running a education institute providing smart class rooms. The news items in the petitioners daily was published in their Madurai Edition on 15.07.2015 and Erode, Tirchy Ediction on 19.07.2015 reporting the order passed by the Consumer Court against the respondent wherein it is stated that the respondents institution was directed to pay compensation of Rs.50000/- and costs of Rs.5000/- to the four educational institutions for deficiency to the service and mental agony caused to them for not providing service promised.

4. The respondents have filed a complaint under Section 191(A) and 200 Cr.P.C alleging that the news items has been published by the petitioners herein without considering the imputation being inflicted on them. The word 'fraud' used in the news item has caused imputation and injury to its reputation. The said complaint for defamation was taken on file by the learned Judicial Magistrate No.V, Madurai in C.C. Nos. 147 and 148 of 2016 and the summons were caused. Hence the present petitions to quash the complaint.

5. Reading of the complaint this Court finds that while reporting the judgment of the consumer forum the petitioners have used the word 'fraud' which according to the respondents is objectionable and defamatory expression. According to the respondents, the complaint against them was breach of contract and deficiency of service. Complaint itself was a motivated one just to avoid and evade payment of contractual money. Whileso, reporting the exparte order of the consumer court but the petitioners herein without verification by unwarrantedly and unnecessarily employing the word 'fraud' had caused damage to their reputation.

6. According to the petitioners they have reported news only after thorough perusal of the pleading and scrutiny of the evidence. Hence they have used the term 'fraud' in their report with the limited meaning for the publication of the news item, since the deceptive method adopted by the complainant has been spoken in the pleadings and evidence. The petitioners have employed the word 'fraud' used in common parlance. Therefore the word 'fraud' used in the news items is not a defamatory expression. It is also pointed out by the petitioners that they have used the said expression in good fait. It being a bonafide reporting of the court verdict it will not attract the ingredients of defamation. Having published the court verdict in the public interest with out with any ill motive or dis-honest intention the complaint against them has to be quashed.

7. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioners. The counsel for the respondents have withdrawn the memo of appearance and a memo is filed to that effect.

8. A cumulative reading of the order passed by the District Consumer Redressal Forum, Virudhunagar in C.C. No.02 of 2015 dated 13.07.2015 and the news report which is under scrutiny in this petition, this Court finds that the word 'fraud' has been employed in the news report since the consumer forum has held that the respondent company after promising to provide smart class to the students by employing teachers have failed to employ teachers, thereby cause monetary loss to the concerned institute and also mental agony to them.

9. The holistic reading of the news report and the caption given to the news item, the word 'fraud' has been used to catch the eyes of the reader . The petitioners have employed the word 'fraud'. Since the fact of the case warrants to use it. The complaint alleges the news report and caption attracts ingredients for ordinary dictionary meaning for 'fraud'.

10. The petitioners are editors and publishers of a reputed news paper. There is no element of malice or ulterior motive to report anything defamatory. The word 'fraud' as defined in the IPC cannot be found present in the case reported. However the word 'fraud' is used by the petitioners for the common man understanding. Reporting the verdict of consumer forum cannot

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be construed as defamatory expression causing dis repute to the respondents. 11. Hence this Court find merit in these petitions and these petitions are allowed and the proceedings in C.C.Nos.147 and 148 of 2016 on the file of the learned Judicial Magistrate No.V, Madurai is hereby quashed. Consequently connected miscellaneous petitions are closed. 12. This Court wish to record that herein after the petitioners shall be very cautious is using the word 'fraud' while reporting and avoid recurrence of this incident.
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