Circulating Defamatory Cartoons In Institution’s Internal Newspaper Against Expelled Member Attracts Charges U/S 500 IPC: Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court recently refused to quash the defamation proceedings pending against the President of Bowring Institute, who allegedly circulated objectionable cartoons defaming the complainant (an expelled member of the institute), in the newsletter to other members of the institute. This was in the case of Anoop Bajaj v. Jayanna (CRIMINAL PETITION NO.6639 OF 2022) and was presided over by a single judge bench of Justice K Natarajan.


The case of petitioner is that the respondent filed a private complaint under section 200 of Cr.P.C. which was registered in PCR No.13515/2014 for the offences punishable under Sections 500, 501, 504, 505(2) read with Section 120-B of IPC. The learned Magistrate, after recording the sworn statement of the complainant, took cognizance against the petitioner 3 for the offence punishable under Section 500 of IPC, which is under challenge. The learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner has contended that the petitioner is the President of Bowring Institute (for short ‘Institute’). The respondent, an expelled member of the Institute, committed ruckus in the premises by trespassing into the Institute along with 150 people. Therefore, a complaint was filed against the respondent by the petitioner which was registered as FIR against him for the offences punishable under sections 506, 504, 120B, 143, 147, 119, 448, 323 of IPC. Charge sheet also was filed against the respondent-complainant and others. On the special general body meeting called for by the petitioner, the petitioner sent a letter showing some pictures, cartoons and the defamatory pictures against the respondent which insulted the respondent intentionally. Therefore, the complaint came to be 4 filed against respondent-complainant, which is under challenge


The Court held that, “Sending the defamatory statement and the cartoons directly insulting the respondent by way of such statement, attracts Section 499 of IPC and it is not sent in good faith by the public authority in order to attract Exception 8 to Section 499 of IPC. As per Section 200 Cr.P.C., the Magistrate has received the complaint, examined the complainant by taking cognizance and postponed the issuance of process and thereafter, he has issued the process under Section 204 of Cr.P.C. Therefore, there is no flaw in the order passed by the Magistrate in taking cognizance of the offence against the petitioner.”

It further added, “it is well settled that, even in the Code of Criminal Procedure, there is no definition for the word ‘cognizance’. It is only an application of mind by a Judge. Therefore, merely not mentioning the word ‘cognizance’, cannot be said that there is no cognizance taken by the Magistrate.”


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