In a recent case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court while adjudicating upon a Petition filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code was of the opinion that Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code permits only family members or relatives of the deceased against whom imputations have been made to file a complaint of defamation and can claim to be ‘aggrieved persons’. This ratio was held by a single bench of the court in the case of Raj Kumar Saini Vs. Sant Kanwar, CRM-M-30950 of 2019.
The brief facts of the case are that the Respondent/Complainant i.e. Sant Kanwar was a follower of late Chaudhary Matu Ram Hooda, who was an Arya Samajist and freedom fighter. The Complainant claimed that he was an inspiration and guiding light for him and so he was an ardent follower of Hooda. The Complainant further stated that in the newspaper on two dates there were defamatory statements made against late Chaudhary Matu Ram Hooda. On the basis of these statements, the above-said complaint was filed in a court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Rohtak. Hence, the Petitioner has filed the petition under section 482 of CrPC to quash the complaint.
The High Court sent a summons notice to the Respondent/Complainant, but he did not appear on the date and so the Court first analyzed section 499 of IPC and section 199 of CrPC. It further relied on the judgment of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Vs. The State of Bihar & Anr. 1986 SCC OnLine Patna 174, and stated that the person aggrieved was only the person defamed. An exception had been made in the case of a deceased person, but the persons aggrieved in such a case were limited to his family members and near relatives, whose feelings would be hurt by the defamatory statement and none else. The court further stated that “Explanation 1 to Section 499 IPC makes it amply clear that it is only the ‘family members’ or ‘near relatives’ of the deceased person, against whom imputations have been made, who can claim to be ‘persons aggrieved’. Therefore, the respondent-complainant, who is not a ‘family member’ or ‘near relative’ of late Chaudhary Matu Ram Hooda, cannot unilaterally assume unto himself the status of an ‘aggrieved person’ under Section 199 Cr.P.C, whereby he can assert that his feelings were hurt and maintain the subject complaint against the petitioner before the learned Magistrate for the alleged offence of defamation”. Hence, the Court allowed the Petition filed by the Petitioner under Section 2382 of CrPC and quashed the complaint filed against the Petitioner.