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Vir Sanghvi v/s Outlook Media Private Limited

    Crl.M.C.3712 of 2014

    Decided On, 03 January 2018

    At, High Court of Delhi


    For the Petitioner: Nitya Rama Krishnan, Rahul Kripalani, Prianka Rao, Sunaina Phul. Advocates. For the Respondent: A.J. Bhambhani, Senior Advocate, Siddharth Yadav. Advocates.

Judgment Text

Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. (Oral)

1. The petitioner impugns order dated 30.06.2014 passed by the Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate in Complaint Case No.03/01/13, Police Station Safdarjung Enclave allowing the application of the Respondents under Section 309(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) adjourning the proceedings sine die.

2. The petitioner had filed the subject complaint consequent to a Story published by the respondents in their Magazine ‘Outlook’ published on 29.11.2010. The Story purported to extract certain tapped conversation allegedly between the petitioner and certain other individuals. The petitioner, inter alia, contending that the extracted conversation was not correct and the alleged tape recordings, relied on by the respondents and also made available on their website were doctored and tampered. Further, it was contended that the imputations made in the Story were false and defamatory.

3. Respondents relying on the proceedings pending with the Supreme Court contended that since the original tapes had been kept by the Supreme Court in a sealed cover, the proceedings were liable to be stayed and adjourned sine die in terms of Section 309(2) of the Cr.P.C.

4. Reference was made to the orders of the Supreme Court dated 01.12.2010 and 10.02.2011 in Civil Appeal No.10660/2010 titled Center for Public Interest Litigation & Ors. Versus Union of India & Others to point out that directions were issued by the Supreme Court to preserve the recordings of the alleged conversation. It was contended that the original recordings and the original media, containing the recordings, in terms of the Orders of the Supreme Court, kept sealed under the lock and key of the Secretary General of the Court.

5. Learned senior counsel for the respondents contends that in terms of first exception to the Section 499 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Truth is a defense to an allegation of defamation and to establish that the published conversation was the correct transcript of what is contained in the said tapes, it would be necessary for the respondents to summon and prove before the Trial Court the original of the tape recordings and in view of the fact that the said recordings have been kept under lock and key, there may be an impediment in the respondents being able to summon, produce and prove the same in their defence.

6. Learned counsel for the petitioner, inter alia, contends that copies of the recordings kept sealed under lock and key were made available to the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Department of Income Tax, as is evident from the order dated 10.02.2011 and could always be summoned by the Respondents in their defense at the appropriate stage.

7. It may be noticed that after the impugned order dated 30.06.2014, the trial of the case, which is referred to as the ‘2G Scam Case’ has already concluded and a final judgment delivered. It may also be noticed that copy of the recorded conversation has been made available to the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Income Tax Authorities.

8. The premise of the impugned order is the pendency of the 2G Scam Case and that there is no way that the Respondents can produce the tapes during the period the trial is being conducted.

9. It may be noticed that post the impugned order dated 30.06.2014, the trial of the 2G Scam Case has already concluded and resulted in a judgment. It may also be noticed that the Supreme Court, by its order 10.02.2011, made available copies of the said recorded conversation, to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Authorities, to facilitate the trial and further by its order dated 16.03.2011 in Civil Appeal No.10660/2010, categorically recorded that the investigation which was then being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation, pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court, would not adversely affect or influence adjudication of any other case which may be pending before other court.

10. In view of the above facts and the changed circumstance that the 2G Scam Case has culminated in a judgment, in my view, the order adjourning the complaint case filed by the petitioner sine die needs to be recalled. Accordingly, the impugned order dated 30.06.2014 is set aside.

11. It is directed that in case respondents, in their defense, wish to summon, produce and to prove the recorded conversation, as contained in the said tapes, it would be open to the respondents to summon the same from the Central Bureau of Investigation and/or the Income Tax Authorities, which have been made available copies of the said recording under the orders of the Supreme Court. For which purpose, the respondents would be at liberty to make an application to the Trial Court at the appropriate stage. In case there is any impediment in the respondents seeking production of the said recordings from the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Income Tax Authorities, it would be open to the respondents to approach the Supreme Court for ap

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propriate directions. 12. The case shall be listed before the concerned Trial Court for directions on 03rd February, 2018. In view of the facts that the proceedings have remained stayed for over three years, the Trial Court is directed to expedite the proceedings and preferably conclude the same within a period of one year. 13. The Petition is accordingly allowed in the above terms. 14. The Trial Court Record shall be returned to the concerned court forthwith. 15. Dasti under signatures of the Court Master.