The decision that publishing news and stories concerning conflict between police personnel from various departments does not constitute to inciting ill will among classes according to section 505(2) of the IPC, is upheld by the High Court of Bombay through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE PRASANNA B. VARALE & HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S. M. MODAK in the case of Amol Kashinath Vyavhare Versus Purnima Chaugule Shrirangi And Others (WRIT PETITION NO.2954 OF 2018).
Brief facts of the case are that reporter Amol Vyavhare had published two articles in a newspaper in Solapur, Dainik Pudhari in 2017 and 2018 regarding between police personnel from different departments. Following this, a FIR was filed against the reporter under the IPC sections 500 (defamation), 501 (printing defamatory matter), 502 (sale of printed substance containing defamatory matter), and 505(2) (statements encouraging enmity, animosity, or ill-will between classes). The then-deputy commissioner, Smt. Pournima Chaugule Shringi filed the complaint because the news items included officials from her department and the staff from the Crime Branch of the Solapur Unit. Hence the petitioner has approached the court to decide for the case.
The counsel for petitioner, Mr. Anvil S. Kalekar, contended that the allegations in the FIR and two news stories do not reveal an offence under section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code. According to him, the publishing must result in the dissemination of a rumour or unsettling news about a religion, race, language, or community. If criminal law is required for an infraction under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code involving defamation of a public officer, there is a defined procedure. Nothing has been done in the same way. He also relied upon the judgment in case of Bilal Ahmad Kaloo Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and the judgment in case of KK Mishra Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh.
Shri Yagnik, counsel for the respondent, strongly opposed to the reliefs being granted. According to him, a publication need not apply to two religions in order to fall within the terms of section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code, and even if it pertains to the employees of a single establishment, the provisions are still attracted. He further said that if the Petitioner has a complaint about the provisions of Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, he can raise it and make a claim under one of the exceptions to Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code. He based his argument on a decision in the case of Amish Devgan vs. Union of India.
The court pointed out that the article must be published with the “intent to create or promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community, or any other ground whatsoever,” and that “feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious, racial, language, or regional groups, castes or communities” were not present in the case. The court said that, while it was true that by reading those two news articles, any member of the public would undoubtedly conclude that there is a schism between the police personnel of two offices, and that this would not send a positive message about the overall functioning of the Police Commissionerate Office, Solapur, and would also cause alarm, the court found that it lacked the ingredients of 505(2) of the IPC. The court remarked that the procedure specified under section 199 of the CrPC was not followed when section 500 of the IPC was invoked. Thus the court quashed the FIR.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY- ATIVA GOSWAMI