Thursday, May 28, 2015

Common Cause Vs Union of India-Ranjith Sinha-coal allocation case

Common Cause  Vs Union of India-Ranjith Sinha[CBI Director] case  

This case was filed by the "Common Cause"[NGO]seeking direction from Hon'ble Supreme Court ,when the allegations that CBI  Director met accused persons in the jail surfaced.

[1]to direct CBI Director Ranjith Sinhan not to interfer in the investigation of coal block allocation case 

[2] SIT should be constituted to look into the abuse of authority by Mr. Ranjit Sinha in attempting to scuttle the investigations into the coal  block allocations.

Supreme Court  Held : "that  it was completely inappropriate for Mr. Ranjit Sinha to have met persons accused in the Coal Block Allocation case without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present, it is necessary to look into the question whether any one or more such meetings of Mr. Sinha with accused persons without the investigating officer have had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI. We require assistance in this matter, particularly for determining the methodology for conducting such an inquiry. For rendering assistance to us in this regard, notice be issued to the Central Vigilance Commission returnable on 6th July, 2015."


Full Text of the Judgement : 


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
I.A. No. 13/2014 and Crl. M.P. No.387/2015
IN
WRIT PETITION (C) NO.463/2012
Common Cause & Ors. ….Petitioners
Versus
Union of India and Ors. …Respondents
O R D E R
Madan B. Lokur, J.

1. The prayer in IA No.13/2014 filed by Common Cause & others is two-fold:

(1)Direct Mr. Ranjit Sinha, Director CBI, not to interfere in the coal block  allocation case investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI and to recuse himself from these cases.

(2)Direct an SIT appointed by the Hon’ble Court to investigate the abuse of authority committed by the CBI Director in order to scuttle inquires, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in coal block allocation cases and other important cases.

2. In so far as the first prayer is concerned, since Mr. Ranjit Sinha, the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (for short the CBI) has admittedly superannuated on or about 2nd December, 2014 the question of his recusal from investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in respect of cases arising out of what is now commonly known as the Coal Block Allocations case has become infructuous. We are, therefore, concerned only with the second prayer in the application.

3. The prayer in Crl. MP No.387/2015 filed by Mr. Ranjit Sinha is as follows:

A.Direct the concerned Police Station to register an FIR against Mr. Prashant Bhushan, the Petitioner Association (i.e. Common Cause) and Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal for making deliberate and intentional false statements on oath and before this Hon’ble Court in these proceedings,
B. Pass other or further orders as may be deemed fit and proper.
4. We propose to consider both these applications since we have heard submissions on them.
5. It is not necessary to go into the detailed background of the case since all the facts are on record in the judgment delivered by this Court in Manohar Lal Sharma v.Principal Secretary and Ors.[1] Nevertheless, some facts are necessary for the purposes of a decision on these applications.
6. During the course of hearing of the writ petition on  24th January, 2013 and in response to a query made by this Court, a statement was made by the learned Additional Solicitor General that on the next date of hearing, the status of the investigations (into the allotment of coal blocks) shall be made known to this Court through an affidavit filed by a competent authority. The case was then adjourned to 12th March, 2013.
7. Pursuant to the statement made by the learned Additional Solicitor General, a status report was filed by the CBI on 8th March, 2013 in a sealed cover. This status report was perused on 12th March, 2013 and upon a consideration of the entire matter, this Court required an affidavit to be filed by the Director, CBI that the status report submitted was vetted by him and nothing therein has been shared with the political executive. He was also required to state on affidavit that the same procedure would be followed in respect of subsequent status reports that may be filed in this Court. The status report was then re-sealed and the case adjourned to 30th April, 2013.
8. Acting on the above order, the Director, CBI filed the requisite affidavit on 26th April, 2013. When the case was taken up on 30th April, 2013 the affidavit filed by the Director, CBI was perused and this Court was of the view that the following aspects needed to be clarified by the Director, CBI:
“(i) As to why in the status report dated 08.03.2013 no disclosure was made to this Court that the draft report has been shared with the political executive and officials.
(ii) What was the basis and reasons for the C.B.I. in making the statement on 12.03.2013 through its counsel (Additional Solicitor General) before this Court that the status report dated 08.03.2013 has not been shared with any one and it is meant only for the Court. (iii) In the affidavit now filed by the Director, C.B.I. on April 26, 2013 it is stated that the draft of the status report dated March 8, 2013 was shared with the Minister of Law & Justice as desired by him prior to its submission before this Court and it was also shared with Joint Secretary level officers each of the Prime Minister’s Officer and Ministry of Coal as desired by them but nothing has been said in the affidavit whether or not changes were made in the draft report and, if yes, at whose instance and the extent of changes and whether besides the three persons mentioned in para 4 of the affidavit, the draft report was shared with any other person in that meeting.
(iv) The names of the two officers one each of the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Coal referred to para 4 of the affidavit.
(v) xxxx xxxxx
(vi) xxxx xxxxx”
9. It was directed that an affidavit giving the above information may be filed by the Director, CBI by 6th May, 2013 and the case was then adjourned to 8th May, 2013. As required, the Director, CBI filed a further affidavit in this
regard on 6th May, 2013.
10. When the case was taken up on 8th May, 2013 Mr. Prashant Bhushan learned counsel for Common Cause made his submissions. Keeping the submissions in mind it was directed that the Director, CBI shall henceforth ensure the secrecy of inquiries and investigations into the allocation of coal blocks and that no access of any nature whatsoever is provided to any person or authority including any Minister of the Central Cabinet, Law Officers, Advocates of the CBI, Director of Prosecution and Officials/Officers of the Central Government.
11. It is in the background of the above broad facts relating to the secrecy (and purity) of the investigations that IA No. 13/2014 appears to have been moved by Common Cause with some additional facts having come to its notice I.A. 13 of 2014 and Crl.M.P. No.387 of 2015 IN W.P. (C) No. 463 of 2012 after the aforesaid orders were passed by this Court.
Pleadings and documents
12. Apart from stating a few relevant facts in the application, what is of immediate concern is the averment made in paragraph 9 of the application that Common Cause has come to know that Mr. Ranjit Sinha, Director, CBI had met several persons at his residence who are accused in prominent cases including the Coal Block Allocation scam without any of the investigating officers being present. (Emphasis is given by us). It is then stated in Para 10 of the application as follows:
“It is of particular significance that Mr. Ranjit Sinha had several meetings with Mr. Vijay Darda, and his son Mr. Devendra Darda, who are being investigated in the case of illegal allocation of coal blocks. Mr. Sinha also met with Mr. Subodh Kant Sahay, former Union Minister, whose brother’s company is one of the beneficiaries of the allocation of coal blocks and is
being investigated by the CBI.”
13. In paragraph 11 of the application, it is stated that there is an ‘entry register’ containing details of visitors, including the accused persons, who met Mr. Sinha at hisresidence from time to time. It is stated that Mr. Sinha did not meet them at his office or in the presence of the investigating officers. Rather, he met them at his residence  without the investigation team being present. A copy of the ‘entry register’ is filed in a sealed cover as an annexure to the application.
14. In paragraph 12 of the application a reference is made to Mr. Ranjit Sinha meeting some accused persons in what is commonly known as the 2G spectrum case being an appeal filed by the Centre for PIL.2
15. At this stage it is necessary to digress a bit and mention that in the 2G spectrum case, an application was filed by the petitioner therein being IA No. 73 of 2014 in which it was prayed as follows:
“(i) Direct the CBI Director Shri Ranjit Sinha not to interfere in investigation and prosecution of the case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation being carried out by the CBI, and to recuse himself from the case.
(ii) Pass further orders as may be deemed fit and proper.”
16. An additional affidavit dated 5th September, 2014 was also filed in support of IA No. 73 of 2014 in which it was prayed that this Court should “order an SIT investigation into the gross abuse of authority committed by the CBI Director in trying to scuttle investigations and prosecutions 2 Civil Appeal No. 10660 of 2010: Centre for PIL v. Union of India being carried out by the CBI in 2G scam cases and other prominent cases…”
17. After an elaborate hearing, this Court passed an order in IA No. 73 of 2014 on 20th November, 2014 the relevant portion of which reads as follows: “To protect and preserve the sanctity and the fair name of the institution including the reputation of the Office of the Director of CBI, we are not deliberately giving out elaborate reasons. It would suffice for us to observe that the information furnished by the applicants is prima facie credible and therefore requires to be accepted. Let it not be said by anybody, that we have not given any reasons while disposing of the application. We are reiterating this statement only to prevent flak from several quarters of the society.We would like to re-emphasize that elaborate reasons are not necessary,only to protect the reputation of the CBI from being tarnished.
In view of the above, we grant the aforesaid relief sought by the applicants and pass the following orders:-
(i) We recall our earlier order passed on 15.09.2014 so far as it relates to I.A. No. 73 of 2014.
(ii) We direct Shri Ranjit Sinha, CBI Director
not to interfere in the investigation and prosecution of the case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation that is carried out by the CBI, and to recuse himself from the case.
(iii) Shri Ranjit Sinha shall be replaced by the senior most officer of the investigating team, constituted by the CBI to investigate into case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation and continue the proceedings further.With the above observations, I.A. No. 73 of 2014 (application for directions) is disposed of.
18. In support of his submission that an SIT should be constituted to look into the abuse of authority by Mr. Ranjit Sinha in attempting to scuttle the investigations into the coal block allocations, Mr. Prashant Bhushan filed a short note dated 12th January, 2015. Along with the note, he annexed a photocopy of a file in respect of the case against the Dardas (abovementioned). It was submitted by Mr. Prashant Bhushan during the course of his oral submissions that the photocopy of the file was given to him by a whistle blower.
19. In response, the CBI filed a note date 18th September, 2014 in a sealed cover indicating the detailed procedure followed by the CBI before a final decision is taken by a competent authority on closing a case or filing a charge sheet. It is not necessary for us to go into the details of the procedure followed but it is necessary only to mention that the CBI does follow quite a detailed and open process of discussion and expression of views before a final decision is taken on matters before it. We may record that we have absolutely no quarrel with the procedure prescribed by the CBI before it takes a final decision. With regard to the ‘entry register’ relied upon by Mr. Prashant Bhushan it is stated that a copy thereof has not been supplied to the counsel for the CBI and in any case it is the subject matter of an enquiry before another Bench dealing with the 2G spectrum case.
20. The CBI also filed a note dated 20th February, 2015 in a sealed cover. In this note, the merits of the controversy relating to the Dardas are adverted to and the decisions taken by the CBI have been justified. It is also stated that the strength of the CBI lies in the multiple levels of supervision where each level is free and independent in  expressing its views and recommendations. It is only after taking account of these views and recommendations that the competent authority passes a final order which then becomes the stand of the CBI.
21. With reference to the ‘entry register’ or the visitor’s diary, it is stated that it has not been supplied to the CBI and it was not maintained by the CBI. It is submitted that I.A. 13 of 2014 and Crl.M.P. No.387 of 2015 IN W.P. (C) No. 463 of 2012 since false statements have been made by Common Cause in respect of the case pertaining to the Dardas, the ‘visitor’s diary’ must also be viewed with suspicion.
22. Our attention has also been drawn to the order dated 8th May, 2013 passed by this Court to the effect that the secrecy of the inquiries and investigations must be ensured. It is submitted in this context that the fact that Common Cause has obtained a copy of the note sheets of the office
file indicates that the secrecy of the concerned file has been compromised and that the CBI is taking steps to ascertain how the file moved out of the office.
23. Mr. Prashant Bhushan filed a note in rejoinder essentially reiterating the submissions made.
24. As far as Crl. MP No. 387/2015 filed by Mr. Ranjit Sinha is concerned, he states that Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Common Cause and Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal of Common Cause have deliberately made misstatements and stated facts that are not true with a view to mislead this Court. It is submitted in the application that according to them, one Mr. Moin Qureshi had dealings with Mr. Sinha and that an appraisal report prepared by the Income Tax Department I.A. 13 of 2014 and Crl.M.P. No.387 of 2015 IN W.P. (C) No. 463 of 2012 contained some details in this regard. It is submitted that this allegation was found to be incorrect and was stated so
by the learned Attorney General when he appeared in this Court on 17th October, 2014. This Court had also seen the appraisal report and did not find anything to link Mr. Moin Qureshi with Mr. Sinha. 25. It is also stated that in IA No. 13/2014 as well as the additional affidavit filed in support of this application it has been falsely stated that Mr. Ranjit Sinha had overruled his subordinate officers with a view to bring a closure to certain
cases and this was false to the knowledge of Mr. Prashant Bhushan and Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal.
26. Significantly, in paragraph 6 of the application (that is Crl. MP No. 387 of 2015) Mr. Sinha has adverted to the contents of paragraph 9 of IA No.13/2014, wherein it has been stated that Mr. Sinha met some accused persons in some prominent cases including the Coal Block Allocation
case without the investigating officer being present. While adverting to this, Mr. Sinha states in paragraph 6 of the application as follows:-
“That it has wrongly been averred in para 9 that Shri. Sinha (Former Director, CBI) repeatedly overruled the Investigating Officers and forced them not to register FIRs/RCs in cases where PEs had been registered. It
has been further wrongly averred that Shri Sinha forced the officials to file closure reports in cases where FIR’s has already been registered.”
27. It is noteworthy that Mr. Sinha does not deny that he met some accused persons in the Coal Block Allocation case without the investigating officer being present.
Submissions and discussion
28. We heard Mr. Prashant Bhushan for Common Cause,Mr. Amarendra Saran, learned Senior Counsel for the CBI and Mr. Vikas Singh, learned Senior Counsel for Mr. Ranjit Sinha in considerable detail over a few days.
29. We are of the opinion that it is not at all necessary for us, nor is it advisable at this stage, to enter the thicket of allegations made by Common Cause with regard to the investigations relating to the Dardas or the alleged attempt by Mr. Ranjit Sinha to scuttle the investigations with regard to one or more of the accused persons in that case. What is of greater importance and what has caused us considerable concern is that neither Mr. Ranjit Sinha nor the CBI denies that Mr. Ranjit Sinha had met some persons, including the Dardas, who are accused of criminality in the Coal Block Allocations case without the investigating officer or the investigating team being present.
30. On the contrary, it is argued on behalf of Mr. Ranjit Sinha that it is his job to meet the accused persons and to get their point of view before taking a final decision in the matter of their criminality. It is submitted that there is no wrongdoing if he as the Director of the CBI meets some accused persons so that if they are innocent, they should not unnecessarily and without proper justification be subjected to a criminal prosecution.
31. We need not comment on the opinion of Mr. Ranjit Sinha expressed through his learned counsel Mr. Vikas Singh except to say that even if Mr. Sinha is right, there cannot at all be any justification for him to meet any
accused person in a criminal case where investigation is underway, without the investigating officer being present, whether it is in his office or as alleged by Mr. Prashant Bhushan, at his residence and that too, allegedly, several times including late at night. If at all Mr. Sinha as the Director of the CBI had to meet any accused person for obtaining his point of view on the allegations against him, he should have done so in the presence of the investigating officer or the investigating team. The fact that Mr. Sinha admittedly met some accused persons in the absence of the  investigating officer or the investigating team is itself a cause for concern.
32. There is a very high degree of responsibility placed on an investigating agency to ensure that an innocent person is not subjected to a criminal trial. This responsibility is coupled with an equally high degree of ethical rectitude required of an investigating officer or an investigating agency to ensure that the investigations are carried out without any bias and are conducted in all fairness not only to the accused person but also to the victim of any crime, whether the victim is an individual or the State.
33. In Sidhartha Vashisht @ Manu Sharma v. State[4] this Court made the following observations with regard to the entitlement of an accused to a fair investigation: “In the Indian criminal jurisprudence, the accused is placed in a so mewhat advantageous position than under  different jurisprudence of some of the countries in the world. The criminal justice administration system in India places human rights and dignity for human life at a much
higher pedestal. In our jurisprudence an accused is presumed to be innocent till proved guilty, the alleged accused is entitled to fairness and true investigation and  fair trial and the prosecution is expected to play balanced role in the trial of a crime. The investigation should be judicious, fair, transparent and expeditious to ensure compliance with the basic rule of law. These are the fundamental canons of our criminal jurisprudence and they are quite in conformity with the constitutional mandate contained in Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”
34. Similarly, in Manohar Lal Sharma[5] this Court observed that investigations have to be fair, impartial and uninfluenced by external influences. It is stated as follows: “A proper investigation into crime is one of the essentials of the criminal justice system and an integral facet of rule of law. The investigation by the police under the Code has to be fair, impartial and uninfluenced by external influences. Where investigation into crime is handled by CBI under the DSPE Act, the same principles apply and CBI as an investigating agency is supposed to discharge its responsibility with competence, promptness, fairness and  uninfluenced and unhindered by external influences
35. In the present case, the contention of the learned counsel appearing on behalf of Mr. Sinha is that there is nothing to indicate that his client tried to scuttle the investigations and the reference to the investigations in the case of the Dardas is completely misplaced. It was contended by learned counsel appearing for the CBI as well as learned counsel for Mr. Ranjit Sinha that a prayer  by an SIT having not been accepted by this Court in the application made in the 2G spectrum case, the same request in this application should not be accepted.
36. As mentioned above, it is not necessary for us to examine whether the investigation into the case of the Dardas was in any manner influenced by Mr. Sinha at any point of time. What is of importance is that as justice must
not only be done but it must also appear to have been done, similarly, investigations must not only be fair but must appear to have been conducted in a fair manner. The fact that Mr. Sinha met some of the accused persons without the investigating officer or the investigating team being present disturbs us with regard to the fairness of the investigations.
This is all the more so if we keep in mind the fact that in the 2G scam investigations, this Court had concluded in its order dated 20th November, 2011 that Mr. Ranjit Sinha should not interfere in the investigation and prosecution of the case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation and to recuse himself from the case. That an SIT was not ordered  in the 2G spectrum case is not relevant. A view was taken that Mr. Sinha should be directed to not interfere in the I.A. 13 of 2014 and Crl.M.P. No.387 of 2015 IN W.P. (C) No. 463 of 2012 investigations in that case and that, coupled with his meeting accused persons in the Coal Block Allocation case without the investigating officer being present, is enough to persuade us that some further inquiry is necessary to ensure that the investigations have been fair in the coal block allocation cases where Mr. Sinha has had one or more
meetings with one or more accused persons.
37. Learned counsel appearing for the CBI passionately submitted that any adverse order that we may pass in this regard would irreparably damage the credibility of the CBI. In our opinion this argument is fallacious. If an
independent inquiry shows that the CBI has acted fairly, it will enhance its institutional credibility and its image. On the other hand, if the independent inquiry shows that Mr. Ranjit Sinha managed to influence some specific
investigations in the Coal Block Allocations case, it will serve the larger public interest and will enable the CBI to take appropriate corrective and remedial measures. Either way, through an independent inquiry the CBI will be the beneficiary rather than the loser.
38. While opposing IA No. 13/2014 and supporting Crl. I.A. 13 of 2014 and Crl.M.P. No.387 of 2015 IN W.P. (C) No. 463 of 2012 MP No. 387/2015 Mr. Vikas Singh relied upon Perumal v. Janaki[7] to contend that when a palpably false statement is made for extraneous reasons, it is an appropriate case for the exercise of jurisdiction under Section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (for short the Code).
39. Similarly, reference was made to State of Madhya Pradesh v. Narmada Bachao Andolan & Anr[8] where also this Court observed that it is a settled proposition of law that a false statement made in Court or in the
pleadings to intentionally mislead the Court and to obtain a favourable order amounts to criminal contempt as it tends to impede the administration of justice. 40. On the other hand, Mr. Prashant Bhushan referred to Indirect Tax Practitioners Association v. R.K.Jain[9] with regard to the growing acceptance of the phenomenon of a whistle blower. This Court observed that the respondent in that case was the whistle blower who had tried to highlight the malfunctioning of an important institution established for dealing with cases involving the revenue of the State and there was no reason to silence such a person by invoking the contempt powers of the Court under the Constitution or the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
41. Though the submissions made by Mr. Sinha’s learned counsel on the contents of his application were limited, the oral submissions spread over a larger canvas. It is submitted by Mr. Vikas Singh that Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Common Cause and Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal  have not only committed perjury but are also guilty of contempt of Court and additionally Mr. Prashant Bhushan has violated the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 by placing on record the official notes with regard to the case of the Dardas. We have considered Mr. Sinha’s application from all these angles.
42. In our opinion, the submissions made by Mr. Vikas Singh in this regard do not deserve acceptance. It is true that this Court had required the Director, CBI to ensure, by its order dated 8th May, 2013 that the secrecy of the inquiries and investigations into the allocation of coal blocks is maintained. However, if somebody accesses documents that ought to be carefully maintained by the CBI, it is difficult to find fault with such a whistle blower particularly when his or her action is in public interest. It is another matter if the whistle blower uses the documents for a purpose that is outrageous or that may damage the public interest. In that event, it would be permissible for this Court or an appropriate Court to take action against the whistle blower, if he or she is identified. However, the present case is not of any such category. The whistle blower, whoever it is, acted purportedly in public interest by seeking to bring out what he or she believes is an attempt by Mr. Ranjit Sinha to scuttle the investigations into the affairs of the Dardas or others in the Coal Block Allocation case. As mentioned above, we are not considering whether the file notes actually disclose an attempt by Mr. Sinha to scuttle the investigations. All that is of relevance is whether the disclosure by the whistle blower was mala fide or not. We are of the opinion that the disclosures made by the whistle blower were intended to be in public interest.
43. In these circumstances, it is difficult to hold that Mr. Prashant Bhushan or Common Cause or Mr. Kamal Kant Jaswal had any intention to mislead this Court in any manner, nor do we agree that they have perjured themselves. The file notes speak for themselves and any interpretation, even an allegedly twisted interpretation said to have been given to them, cannot fall within the realm of perjury.
44. As far as the allegation that there has been a violation of the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 is concerned, we are of the opinion that the file notes in this case cannot be described as an ‘official secret’ for the purposes of prosecuting Mr. Prashant Bhushan.
45. Accordingly, Criminal Misc. Petition No. 387 of 2015 is dismissed.
46. With regard to IA No. 13 of 2014, since we have held that it was completely inappropriate for Mr. Ranjit Sinha to have met persons accused in the Coal Block Allocation case without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present, it is necessary to look into the question whether any one or more such meetings of Mr. Sinha with accused persons without the investigating officer have had any impact on the investigations and subsequent charge sheets or closure reports filed by the CBI. We require assistance in this matter, particularly for determining the methodology for conducting such an inquiry. For rendering assistance to us in this regard, notice be issued to the Central Vigilance Commission returnable on 6th July, 2015.
 J.(Madan B. Lokur)
J.(Kurian Joseph)
J (A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi;May 14, 2015

Cases Relied upon :
1 (2014) 2 SCC 532
2 Civil Appeal No. 10660 of 2010: Centre for PIL v. Union of India
3 (2015) 2 SCC 362 I.A. 13 of 2014
4 (2010) 6 SCC 1
5 (2014) 2 SCC 532
6.Paragraph 33 of the Report
7 (2014) 5 SCC 377
8 (2011) 7 SCC 639
9 (2010) 8 SCC 281

Courtesy : Supreme Court of India website 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

RAJDEEP SARDESAI &OTHER MEDIA VS STATE OF A.P -RAJIV TRIVEDI IMPLICATION-SOHRABUDDIN ENCOUNTER CASE -APPEAL DISMISSED

RAJDEEP SARDESAI&OTHER MEDIA HOUSES VS STATE OF A.P-RAJIV TRIVEDI IMPLICATION-SOHRABUDDIN ENCOUNTER CASE-APPEAL DISMISSED.

Facts in Nutshell : Rajiv Trivedi,[then]Additional Commissioner of Police (Crimes and SIT),Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh,with regard to the Sohrabuddin encounter case was published by the appellants in the respective publications and was telecast on CNN-IBN.A representation was given by the second-respondent to the Andhra Pradesh State Government seeking previous sanction under Section 199(4)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (in short ‘Cr.P.C.’) for prosecution of the appellants for offences punishable under the provisions referred to supra. Accordingly, the previous sanction was accorded by the State Government vide G.O. Rt. Nos. 6581, 6582, 6583 and 6580 dated 27.10.2007 in  favour of the second respondent permitting him to file complaints against the appellants through the State Public Prosecutor before the appropriate court of law against the individuals connected with electronic and print media as hereinbelow:

a)Siyasat Urdu Daily: Sri Latif Mohammad Khanb)

b]CNN-IBN (English News Channelc)

c) Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur) Hindi daily

d)The Deccan Chronicle English Daily

e)The Etemaad Urdu Daily

Hon'ble A.P High Court  Held: The order dated 29.4.2011 passed by the High Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad in Criminal Petition No. 1638 of 2008 and batch matters whereby, the High Court dismissed all the criminal petitions except Criminal Petition No. 7592 of 2007, which were filed against the order of  summoning in various complaints filed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh on behalf of the second respondent, as A.P H.C refused to quash the criminal proceeding ,hence ,this appeal before Apex court .

Hon'ble Supreme Court  Held that : "High Court of Andhra Pradesh in rejecting the petitions for quashing the initiation of criminal proceedings against the appellants under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is perfectly legal and valid, the same does not call for interference by this Court in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction as there is no substantial question of law framed in the appeals nor is there any miscarriage of justice for the appellants to interfere with at this stage"

Full Text of Judgement :


CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.857 OF 2012 
RAJDEEP SARDESAI ………APPELLANT
Vs.
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH & ORS. …RESPONDENTS
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.852 OF 2012
J U D G M E N T
V. GOPALA GOWDA, J.

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.853 OF 2012 ,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.854 OF 2012,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.855 OF 2012,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.856 OF 2012,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.858 OF 2012,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.851 OF 2012,CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.850 OF 2012.

The present group of appeals is directed against the final common judgment and order dated 29.4.2011 passed by the High Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad in Criminal Petition No. 1638 of 2008 and batch matters whereby, the High Court dismissed all the criminal petitions except Criminal Petition No. 7592 of 2007, which were filed against the order of  summoning in various complaints filed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh on behalf of the second respondent. The following table would be apposite to clarify which appeal is filed against which criminal petition/complaint case:-

Crl. Appeal Nos.
before this Court
Crl. Petns. arising from
Complaint Nos.
Complaint filed for Defamation under
Section (s)against
appellants
Permission given for
Filing complaint
Vide Sanction
Nos.
857/2012
(Rajdeep Sardesai v. State of A.P. &
ors.) 850/2012
(Sidhartha Gautam v.State of A.P. & Ors.)
852/2012
(Swati Vashistha &
Anr. v. State of A.P.& Ors.)
853/2012
(V.K. Shashikuamr v.
State of A.P. & rs.)
855/2012
(Ahmed Ali Shaik &
Anr. v. State of A.P.& Ors.)
856/2012
(Hemender Sharma &Ors. v. State of A.P.& Ors.)


Crl. P. Nos.1874, 1590, 1646
& 1638 of 2008
filed before High Court
against CC No.1/2008 - reg.telecasting a news programme in CNN-IBN
English News channel under the caption “20 minutes-Sohrabud din Inside Story” on 13.5.2007 at 1730 hrs.











199(2) Cr.PC before the
CourtIV,Addl.Metropolitan SessionsJudge,Nampally Imposing charges Under Sections 499, 500 and 120B of IPC
G.O. Rt. No.6581
Dated 27.10.2007
Crl.A.Nos.854/2012
(Gulab Kothari &
Ors. v. State of
A.P. & Anr.)
and 858/2012
(Hemender Sharma &
Ors. v. State of
A.P. & Ors.
Crl. P. No. 264 of 2008 before High Court
against CC No.3/2008-reg.
publication of news item in
Rajasthan Patrika,
Saturday Edn dated 12.5.2007under the
Heading “Vanjara Par
Kastha Phanda
199(2) r/w Sec. 200
Cr.PC before the Court of
II Addl. Metropolitan
Sessions Judge,
Nampally ,imposing
Charges under Ss. 499, 500, 501, 502 and 120B of IPC
G.O. Rt. No.6582
Dated 27.10.2007

Crl.A.851/2012
(Lateef Mohammad Khan
v. State of A.P. &
Anr.)
Crl. P. No.1252 of 2008 filed
before High Court against
CC No.24/2007-reg. publication of news items in
Siasath Urdu Daily, dated
8.5.2007
199(2) r/w Sec.200
Cr.PC before the court of
I Addl. Metropolitan
Sessions Judge,
Hyderabad imposing
Allegations under
Sections 499, 500,
501, 502 and 120B of IPC
G.O. Rt. No.6580 and
Dated 27.10.2007
2. Brief facts of the case are stated hereunder:
A news item on various dates in the year 2007, allegedly making false implication against the second respondent-Rajiv Trivedi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crimes and SIT), Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh,with regard to the Sohrabuddin encounter case was published by the appellants in the respective publications and was telecast on CNN-IBN. A representation was given by the second-respondent to the Andhra Pradesh State Government seeking previous sanction under Section 199(4)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (in short ‘Cr.P.C.’) for prosecution of the appellants for offences punishable under the provisions referred to supra. Accordingly, the previous sanction was accorded by the State Government vide G.O. Rt. Nos. 6581, 6582, 6583 and 6580 dated 27.10.2007 in  favour of the second respondent permitting him to file complaints against the appellants through the State Public Prosecutor before the appropriate court of law against the individuals connected with electronic and print media as hereinbelow:
a)Siyasat Urdu Daily: Sri Latif Mohammad Khan
b)CNN-IBN English News Channel
c)Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur) Hindi daily
d)The Deccan Chronicle English Daily
e)The Etemaad Urdu Daily
(points (a)-(e) are hereinafter referred to as ‘individual print and electronic media’)
3. One of the above mentioned news items which was telecast on CNN-IBN English News channel under the caption “30 minutes- Sohrabuddin the Inside Story” on 13.5.2007 at 1730 hours, which is subject matter of CC No. 1 of 2008, is extracted hereunder for our examination:-
“Police sources say Vanjara and Pandian nabbed Kousarbai in Bidar with help from S.P. Rajiv Trivedi of the Hyderabad Special Investigation Unit……… Rajiv Trivedi provided cars with fake number plates in which Sohrabuddin was brought to Ahmedabad and then killed in a fake encounter.”
4. Pursuant to the above said sanction accorded by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh, the criminal proceedings were initiated by the State Public Prosecutor on behalf of the State of Andhra Pradesh against the appellants. The State of Andhra Pradesh represented by the State Public Prosecutor filed the complaints against the accused-appellants for the offences referred to supra. The Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge before whom complaints were instituted by the State Public Prosecutor, has taken the cognizance of the offences alleged against the appellants and passed orders summoning them to appear before the Court for further proceedings in the respective cases.
5. Aggrieved by the summoning orders passed by the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge in C.C. No. 27 of 2007, C.C. NO. 3 of 2007, and C.C. No.24 of 2007, the appellants filed Crl. P. Nos. 7592 of 2007, 264 of 2008 and 1252 of 2008 under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, seeking to quash the same, urging various legal contentions.
6. The High Court after hearing all the above said petitions together, adverting to the previous sanction order accorded in favour of respondent No. 2 by the State Government under Section 199(4)(b) of the Cr.P.C., permitting the State Public Prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings for the offences alleged against the appellants referred to supra and after dealing with the contentions with regard to the legality and validity of the said sanction orders read with the Rules and adverting to various judgments of this Court, allowed only Criminal Petition No. 7592 of 2007 (M.J. Akbar & Anr. v. The State of A.P.) and dismissed all other criminal petitions holding that the news telecast in the electronic media by CNN-IBN and other news items published in various newspapers of the appellants per se are integrally connected with the official discharge of duties of the second respondent and held that whether the same amounts to defamatory, libel or scandalous statements is a matter that has to be decided on the evidence to be adduced by the parties. The High Court further held that in the absence of any privilege to the broadcaster on par with Section 7 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, the appellants cannot claim to quash the criminal proceedings initiated against them and there was no merit to quash the said criminal proceedings against the appellants. Aggrieved by the common order of the High Court, these appeals are filed by the appellants raising certain substantial questions of law for consideration of this Court.
7. Learned senior counsel Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar appearing on behalf of the appellants in Criminal Appeal Nos. 850, 852, 853, 855, 856, 857 of 2012 has contended that the State Public Prosecutor cannot make a complaint under Section 199(2) of Cr.P.C. against an individual in respect of whom no sanction has been accorded by the State Government as required under Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C.
8. It is further contended by him on behalf of the appellants that they have been summoned on the complaint instituted by the State Public Prosecutor on behalf of the second respondent on the basis of the previous sanction order accorded by the State Government under Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C. for prosecuting the individual electronic and print media involved in the case on hand and not for the prosecution of any named individual in the said sanction order and therefore, there is no application of mind on the part of the State Government while according the previous sanction orders in favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings under the said provisions referred to supra against the appellants herein.
9. It is further contended on behalf of the appellants that the High Court has erred in dismissing the criminal petitions of the appellants and not quashing the criminal proceedings against the orders of summons passed by the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge after taking cognizance of the complaints filed by the public prosecutor against the appellants, which are not maintainable in law. It is contended by him that the High Court has also not considered the relevant fact that telecasting the story by the appellant is not in connection with discharge of public functions of the second respondent being a public servant and this aspect of the matter has not been dealt with by the High Court thereby, it has rendered the findings as erroneous in law and therefore, the same are liable to be set aside.
10. Further, it is contended by him that the High Court has failed to take into consideration an important aspect of the matter namely, the State Government while examining the representation submitted by the second respondent for according previous sanction as required under Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C. and All India Services (Conduct) Rules of 1968, in his favour authorising the State Public Prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings against the appellants does not reflect application of mind on the part of the State Government as they have failed to find out whether or not the comments made against the second respondent by the individual electronic and print media have got content which are defamatory, scandalous or libellous and whether the same warrant the State Government to permit such institution of criminal  proceedings against the appellants under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Therefore, it is contended that the above explained reasons would show lack of application of mind on the part of the State Government to the facts presented to it and therefore, the impugned sanction order accorded by it in favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings against the appellants under the provisions of Cr.P.C. referred to supra is vitiated in law and is liable to be set aside.
11. Further, it is contended by the learned senior counsel that the High Court has also failed to take into consideration another relevant fact that the criminal complaints instituted by respondent No. 1-State Government against the appellants, is silent about their role in committing the alleged offence of telecasting/publishing comments and allegations against the second respondent which are allegedly defamatory, libellous and scandalous.
12. It is also contended on behalf of the appellants that the High Court has failed to appreciate that to arraign the appellants as the accused, the complainant ought to have made positive averments against them in the complaints and attributed a specific role to each one of them in committing the alleged offence,warranting initiation of criminal proceedings, the same  has not been done, therefore, the summoning order issued by the Metropolitan Sessions Judge and the complaints filed against the appellants by the State Public Prosecutor are not sustainable in law and are liable to be quashed. The learned senior counsel in support of his contentions has placed reliance upon the following judgments of this Court in the cases of Gour Chandra Rout & Anr. v. The Public Prosecutor, Cuttack[1]1, P.C. Joshi & Anr. v. The State of Uttar Pradesh[2] 2, Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhan v. State of Gujarat[3] and Urmila Devi v. Yudhvir Singh[4.]
13. Further, the learned senior counsel placing reliance upon Section 196(2) of Cr.P.C. contended that a specific sanction order is required to prosecute in respect of each person to initiate criminal proceedings under Section 120-B of I.P.C., the same has not been obtained by the second respondent. In support of this contention he placed reliance upon the judgment of this Court in the case of Madan Lal v. The State of Punjab[5].
14. Mr. Aruneshwar Gupta, the learned counsel appearing for the appellants in Criminal Appeal Nos. 854 and 858 of 2012, reiterated the aforesaid legal submissions made by Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar, the learned senior counsel on behalf of the appellants referred to supra. It is further contended by him in Criminal Appeal No. 854 of 2012 that it is evident from the notice dated 13.8.2007 that the sanction for the prosecution was sought against the Editor, News Reporter and Printer and Publisher of Rajasthan Patrika newspaper, however, no sanction was sought against the Appellant Nos.1, 2 and 3 in Criminal Appeal No. 854 of 2012 who are the Editor in Chief, Advisor and printer and publisher of the said newspaper. After perusal of all the documents and material on record, the State Government granted sanction only against the Editor of Rajasthan Patrika Newspaper (the appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 858 of 2012) by its order dated 27.10.2007, after proper application of mind. The application for grant of sanction against appellant Nos.1-3 who are the Editor in Chief, Advisor and Printer and Publisher was specifically rejected by the State Government, therefore, the criminal proceedings initiated against them is not valid in law.
15. It is further contended by him that since the respondents have not challenged the sanction accorded by the State Government dated 27.10.2007, authorising the criminal proceedings against the Editor and rejecting grant of sanction order against appellant Nos.1-3 in Crl. Appeal No.854 of 2012, the same has become final, therefore, the public prosecutor has no authority to file any criminal complaint against the appellants in Criminal Appeal No.854 of 2012 who are  the Editor-in-Chief, Advisor and Printer and Publisher of Rajasthan Patrika. He contended that what cannot be derived directly cannot be obtained indirectly by the process of court proceedings. He further placed reliance on the decision of this Court in the case ofJagir Singh v. Ranbir Singh and Anr.[6], contending that in the absence of sanction to prosecute a named person, the public prosecutor cannot file a complaint and the Trial Court has no jurisdiction to judicially review the sanction order and issue summons against those persons whose name do not specifically appear as accused in the order of sanction accorded by the State Government. It is further contended that this aspect of the matter has not at all been considered by the High Court even though the legal submission was made in this regard before it.
16. Both the learned counsel on behalf of the appellants contended that there must be valid and cogent material before the State Government for according previous sanction in favour of the second respondent permitting him to initiate criminal proceedings against the appellants. It is contended by them that the State Government should have examined the facts, allegations and names of the accused and then should have reasonably applied its mind to conclude whether or not the reputation of the second respondent while discharging his public function as a public servant was intended to be harmed. Only after such reasonable application of mind by the State Government to the facts placed before it, the sanction can be accorded by it in favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings and only then the court of sessions shall take cognizance of such offence in the criminal proceedings initiated against the appellants. This aspect of the matter has not been considered by the learned Judge of the High Court while passing the impugned Judgment. Therefore, the impugned judgment and order is vitiated in law and liable to be set aside.
17. It is further urged by the learned counsel on behalf of the appellants that the High Court has erroneously held that under the scheme of Section 199 of the Cr.P.C., the previous sanction is required against all such persons who have allegedly committed the offence and not necessarily against specific individuals in order to prosecute them for the offences committed against a person in respect of his conduct in the discharge of his public functions who at that time was a public servant employed in connection with the affairs of the Union or State. Therefore, it is contended on behalf of the appellants in Criminal Appeal No. 858 of 2012 that the criminal proceedings initiated by the first respondent on behalf of the  second respondent should have been confined to only against those persons named in the Government sanction order for the offences referred to supra.
18. Mr. Aruneshwar Gupta, the learned counsel for the appellants in Criminal Appeal Nos.854 and 858 of 2012 further contended that several investigations were carried out pursuant to the orders passed by this Court in the Sohrabuddin case and on 12.5.2007, a report was submitted by Ms. Johri which finds reference in judgment of this Court in the case of Rubabbuddin Sheikh v. State of Gujarat and Ors.7. The fact of the investigation by the CBI in Sohrabuddin’s case was in public domain and if that is published in the print media by the appellant (in Crl. A. Nos. 854 & 858 of 2012), the same cannot be made the basis of any defamation as it has referred to the judgment in theaforesaid case which is a public record.
19. It is also further contended by him that RajasthanPatrika is a subscriber of United News of India (UNI)which is one of the largest News Agencies in India,providing news to several news papers in India. The UNI published and broadcast the news item dated 12.05.2007and the appellants in Criminal Appeal No. 858 of 2012,being the Editor of Rajasthan Patrika got the same translated in Hindi and published it in their news paper which is allegedly defamatory to the secondrespondent. It is further contended by him that UnitedNews of India is the source and first broadcaster ofthe alleged defamatory news to its subscribers including the newspaper for which the appellant is the Editor, who acted and published in bona fide the alleged offending news believing it to be true and correct. Therefore, in the absence of any prosecution of UNI, the appellant cannot be prosecuted for the offence of defamation as the same is covered under the Explanation 3 of Section 499 of I.P.C. 20. It is further contended that freedom of expression demands that criminal defamation in relation to publication of news items and articles may not be invoked in all the cases but should be limited to only exceptional cases to redress the immediate harm done to the reputation of the individuals who have been defamed and shall not be allowed to be used as remedy to serve
the ulterior goal as the same will have a negative and damaging effect on the freedom of expression guaranteed to the press.
21. It is further contended by him that Section 499 of I.P.C. defines the offence of defamation as spoken or written, Section 501 of I.P.C. is for defamatory printing or engraving of defamatory matter and Section 502 of I.P.C. is for sale of printed or engraved substances containing defamatory material. Therefore, Section 499 of I.P.C. would cover the Editor while Section 501 will cover the Publisher and Printer and Section 502 of I.P.C. covers the seller. As the offences mentioned under Sections 501 and 502 of I.P.C. are specifically distinct offences which are against the Publisher and the Seller, therefore, the previous sanction order was granted in favour of the second respondent against the Editor of the Newspapers and rejected against the Printer and Publisher. Therefore, in these appeals, the appellants cannot be tried for the offences under Section 499, 501, 502 of I.P.C. with the aid of Section 120-B of I.P.C. as the liability of defamation is only limited to the Editor.
22. In Criminal Appeal No. 851 of 2012, Mr. Abhimanue Shrestha, the learned counsel appearing for appellant-Mr. Lateef Mohd. Khan, General Secretary, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, who has allegedly made certain false and baseless statements against the second respondent under the news item “Rajiv Trivedi-Hyderabad Ka Vanjara” “Fauri Bharkhast Karne Ka Mutalika” published on 8.5.2007 in Siyasat Urdu Daily, contended that the appellant is neither the Publisher nor the Seller of the said Urdu Daily, therefore, one would believe that he made such statements on the basis of the information through electronic and print media.
It is therefore, contended that in view of the nature of the allegations against the second respondent, the appellant who is the Secretary of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee made the above statements published in Siyasat Urdu Daily to make the public aware of the same. The alleged offences are not attracted against him as the allegations in the complaint do not constitute any of the offences under Sections 500, 501, 502 and 120-B of I.P.C. The learned counsel questioned the legality and validity of previous sanction accorded by the State Government in favour of the second respondent to prosecute the appellant in the said appeal by placing reliance on the decisions of this Court in the cases of Kartar Singh & Ors. v. The State of Punjab8 and R. Rajagopal & Anr. v. State of T.N. & Ors.9
23. On the other hand, Mr. P. Vishwanath Shetty, the learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the State has sought to justify the sanction order authorising the Public Prosecutor to institute criminal proceedings against the appellants herein, the same was accorded after applying its mind to the facts stated in the representation given by the second respondent that the statements telecast and published in the electronic and print media by the appellants were defamatory and affected his reputation and the same were in connection with the discharge of his public functions as an IPS Officer. The State Government after applying its mind was satisfied that the reputation of the second respondent was harmed by printing and telecasting the defamatory statements by the appellants herein.Therefore, it accorded the sanction order under Section 199(4) of Cr.P.C. in favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings against the appellant, which provision does not speak of mentioning the names against whom the criminal prosecution has to be instituted by the State Public Prosecutor.
24.He has further contended that the learned Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, after applying his mind with regard to the allegations made against the appellants took cognizance of the matter and issued order of summons to the appellants to appear before the sessions court with their respective counter to the criminal proceedings initiated against them. The same was stalled by the appellants herein by initiating proceedings before the High Court and this Court. It is  contended by him that the challenge before the High Court has been rightly rejected after dealing with each one of the rival legal contentions urged in the Criminal Petitions filed by the appellants, which do not warrant interference by this Court in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, as the appellants are required to face the trial in the proceedings initiated against them by respondent No. 1- the State Government.
25. Mr. Pappu Nageshwar Rao, the learned counsel appearing for the second respondent, sought to justify the sanction accorded in favour of the second respondent by drawing our attention to the provisions of Sections 132, 188, 196, 197, 199 of Cr.P.C. He sought to distinguish previous sanction provided under Section 194 and placed reliance upon the judgments of various High Courts in the cases of Master Girdhari  Lal, Printer & Publisher of Naya Bharat v. The State10, Pachhalloor Noohu v. Public Prosecutor11, Sant Lal v. Krishan Lal12 and B. Basavalingappa and Anr. v. V.Narasimhan13 in support of the proposition of law that previous sanction order by the State Government can be granted under Section 198B (3)(a)of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, by any Secretary or authorisation of the Government in favour of a public servant to prosecute the persons who have committed offences of defamation against him. He further placed reliance upon Section 308 proviso 2 and Section 473 of Cr.P.C., regarding the limitation for sanction and Section 484 of Cr.P.C. regarding sanction saving clause to justify that the sanction accorded by the State Government to prosecute the appellants herein is perfectly legal and valid. He therefore urged that in view of the above, the sanction accorded by the State Government in favour of second respondent cannot be found fault with by the appellants and prayed for dismissal of these appeals.
26. We have heard the rival legal contentions urged on behalf of learned counsel for both the parties and answer the same by assigning the following reasons. With regard to the contention urged by learned senior counsel Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar on behalf of the appellants in Criminal Appeal No.857 of 2012 and connected appeals that the High Court has not considered all the issues raised before it in the criminal petitions filed by the appellants seeking for quashing of the criminal proceedings initiated against them, is wholly untenable in law for the reason that from perusal of the impugned order of the High Court, it is clear that the sanction was accorded by the State Government under the relevant Government order in favour of the second respondent. On examining the facts, circumstances and evidence on record, the previous sanction is accorded to launch necessary prosecution against the CNN-IBN channel, Siyasat Urdu Daily: Sri Latif Mohammad Khan, Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur) Hindi daily, Deccan Chronicle English Daily and Etemaad Urdu Daily. By careful reading of the provision under Section 199 of Cr.P.C., read with the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, it provides that previous sanction must be accorded, authorising the initiation of criminal prosecution against the accused, however, the said provisions do not state that it is necessary to mention the names of each one of the accused who are alleged to have committed the offence in the same alleged transaction. Therefore, in the case on hand, when the previous sanction was accorded by the State Government against those who were responsible for the telecast/publication of the news both in electronic and print media which according to the second respondent damaged his reputation, it is not necessary for the State Government to separately issue sanction order against each one of the appellants, when they are all responsible for telecasting and publishing the said news item in the electronic and print media and also when the names of the said electronic and print media have already been mentioned in the said sanction order. Therefore, there is no merit in the contention urged on behalf of the appellants that their names have not been specifically mentioned in the said sanction order. The said contention is untenable in law and therefore, liable to be rejected. The same is accordingly rejected.
27. Further, the reliance placed by the learned counsel on behalf of the appellants upon the judgments of this Court referred to supra while according sanction in favour of the second respondent to initiate the criminal proceedings against the appellants the State Government has not applied its mind, this contention is also wholly untenable in law as the exercise of power by the State Government under Section  199 of Cr.P.C. is in the administrative and ministerial capacity and according of such sanction is as per the subjective satisfaction on the part of the State Government. The learned senior counsel on behalf of the appellants has placed reliance upon the judgments of this Court in the cases of Gour Chandra Rout & Anr. v. The Public Prosecutor, P.C. Joshi & Anr. v. The State of Uttar Pradesh and Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhan vState of Gujarat (all referred to supra). With regard to the above referred cases, the first two cases have not dealt with the exercise of power under Section 199 of Cr.P.C., except stating the ministerial exercise of power by the State Government while exercising its power under Section 198B (3)(a) of Cr.P.C, 1898. In so far as the third case referred to supra upon which the reliance placed upon by the learned senior counsel on behalf of the appellants, the same is in relation to the previous sanction to be accorded by the State Government for the purpose of prosecution under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Therefore, none of the above cases on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel on behalf of the appellants have any relevance to the fact situation on hand.
28. Having regard to the scheme of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, the complainant-second respondent during the relevant point of time was the Police Officer in the services of the State Government and he cannot prosecute the appellants in a court of law without obtaining previous sanction from the State Government as contemplated under the aforesaid provisions of Cr.P.C. Therefore, in order to prosecute  the appellants, the second respondent made a representation to the State Government along with a petition with regard to initiation of criminal proceedings against the appellants under the provisions referred to supra in respect of which he has sought the sanction of the State Government. On appreciation of the same, the State Government in exercise of its administrative powers appreciated the facts of the matter, rightly applied its mind and accorded the sanction under Section 199(4) of Cr.P.C. in favour of the second respondent to initiate criminal proceedings under the provisions referred to supra against the appellants. The said sanction was accorded by the State Government after appreciating that the statements telecast/published by the appellants in the electronic and print media as well as the statement given by the appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 853 of 2012 in the Urdu Daily on the basis of which the news is published by its Editor, which are all statements defaming the second respondent while he was discharging his public function as a public servant. Therefore, the contention on behalf of the appellants that there was no application of mind on the part of the State Government in according the said sanction is wholly untenable in law, liable to be rejected and the same is accordingly rejected.
29. Further, the contention urged by the appellants counsel placing reliance upon the aforesaid judgements that the act of the second respondent allegedly aiding the Gujarat Police Officers to facilitate taking Sohrabuddin from Bidar to Ahmedabad, has nothing to do with the discharge of his public functions, hence, the said statement in the news item allegedly defaming the second respondent being telecast and published in electronic and print media do not attract Section 199 of Cr.P.C. Therefore, it is contended on behalf of the appellants that the sanction accorded by the State Government is beyond its jurisdiction as the said act of aiding the Gujarat Police is an independent act and it is not in relation to the discharge of public functions of the second respondent though he, at that relevant point of time, was discharging his public  functions. This contention on behalf of the appellants is also wholly untenable in law, for the reason that determining the question on whether or not the second respondent while aiding the Gujarat Police at that point of time was in the capacity of his official discharge of his public functions or otherwise, is to be determined by regular trial after examining the facts, circumstances and evidence on record.
30. The reliance placed upon the judgment of this Court in the case of Rubabbuddin Sheikh (supra), contending that the fact of the investigation by the CBI in Sohrabuddin’s case was the subject matter before this Court at para 2 of the judgment in the case referred to supra, therefore, by publishing the same in the newspaper by the appellants (in Crl. A. Nos. 854 & 858 of 2012) cannot be made the basis of any defamation as the said news item was published after referring to the aforesaid judgment which is a public record. This contention urged on behalf of the appellants is wholly untenable in law for the reason that at para 2 of the said judgment of this Court in the above referred case is only with regard to the facts of that case, whereas, the allegations made against the appellants herein are for publishing and telecasting defamatory statements against the second respondent, which question of fact has to be examined, considered and answered only after regular trial proceedings before the learned Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge. Therefore, the above contention urged in this regard is wholly untenable and the same is rejected.
31. Further, the learned counsel in Criminal Appeal Nos. 854 and 858 of 2012, placed reliance upon the judgment of this Court in the case of Urmila Devi (supra), in support of the proposition of law that only the Editor-In-Chief is responsible for the telecast or publication of the alleged defamatory statements against whom the sanction order is accorded and that there is no sanction order accorded to initiate prosecution against others. Further, the contention on behalf of the appellants that there must be specific mention of persons in the sanction order against whom prosecution can be launched and in the absence of the same, a single sanction order accorded by the State Government against all the other appellants in the connected appeals amounts to giving a wider interpretation of the provision under Section 199(4) of Cr.P.C., which is not the object of the aforesaid provision under the Cr.P.C. This aspect of the matter has not been examined by the High Court; therefore, impugned order is vitiated in law and is contrary to the provisions of Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C.
32. By careful reading of Section 199(4) of the Cr.P.C., it does not indicate that in order to initiate criminal proceedings against the accused, the public servant needs to obtain sanction from the State Government in respect of each one of the persons against whom the same transaction of offence is alleged and the names of the accused are required to be mentioned specifically in the sanction order accorded by the State Government. It is sufficient if one sanction is accorded to prosecute all the concerned persons involved in that occurrence, thus, the contention on behalf of the appellants in this regard is also liable to be rejected and is accordinglyrejected.
33. The contention urged by the learned counsel Mr.Abhimanue Shrestha on behalf of the appellants in Criminal Appeal No.851 of 2012 is also untenable in law for the reasons stated that the appellant has made a statement on the basis of the news items telecast/published in electronic and print media. The same cannot be accepted by us for the reason that it is a matter that has to be examined by the trial court after recording the findings of fact on the basis of valid and cogent evidence to be adduced by the State Public Prosecutor on behalf of the respondent.Therefore, there is no substance in the said contention urged on behalf of the appellants and the same is rejected.
34. The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the second respondent rightly sought to justify the findings and reasons of the High Court in its impugned judgment, placing reliance on Sections 132, 188, 196,197 and 199 of Cr.P.C., inter alia contending that for prosecution of an accused in the case of defamation of a public servant, sanction can be accorded under the old Section 198B(3b) of Cr.P.C.,1898, by any Secretary or authorisation by the Government. He has also placed reliance upon Section 2U of Cr.P.C. which defines a Public Prosecutor as any person appointed under Section 24 and included any person acting under the directions of a Public Prosecutor. The learned counsel on behalf of the second respondent has rightly justified that the sanction accorded by the State Government to prosecute the appellants is perfectly legal and valid by placing reliance on Section 308 proviso 2, Section 473 of Cr.P.C. regarding the limitation for sanction and Section 484 of Cr.P.C. The learned counsel has also rightly placed reliance upon the judgments in the cases of Master Girdhari Lal, Printer & Publisher of Naya Bharat v. The State, Pachhalloor Noohu v. Public Prosecutor and Sant Lal v. Krishan Lal and B. Basavalingappa and Anr. v. Narasimhan all referred to supra. Therefore, the submission made by him is well founded and the same must be accepted.
35. Further, the learned counsel for the appellants by placing reliance on Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India contended that the initiation and continuance of the criminal proceedings in the present cases hinder and hamper the very freedom of press which is most precious and constitute an affront to the aforesaid provisions under the Constitution of India. The said contention has been rightly rebutted by the learned counsel on behalf of the respondents by strongly urging that the reputation of an individual is also equally important and that the said aspect of the matter must be considered after adducing cogent and valid evidence on record by the Public Prosecutor before the learned trial Judge who shall then appreciate the same and record his findings on merits of the case.
36. In view of the aforesaid reasons, we are of the opinion that the impugned judgment passed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in rejecting the petitions for quashing the initiation of criminal proceedings against the appellants under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is perfectly legal and valid, the same does not call for interference by this Court in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction as there is no substantial question of law framed in the appeals nor is there any miscarriage of justice for the appellants to interfere with at this stage. In our considered view, having regard to the nature of the complaint, the respondents are required to prove the allegations against the appellants by adducing valid and cogent evidence, the same has to be considered by the trial court and accordingly record the findings on the merits of the case. The appeals are devoid of merit, liable to be dismissed and are accordingly dismissed. The orders granting stay of further proceedings before the trial court shall stand vacated.
J.[V. GOPALA GOWDA]
J.[C. NAGAPPAN]
New Delhi
May 14, 2015

1. AIR 1963 SC 1198
2 .AIR 1961 SC 387
3. (1997) 7 SCC 622
4. (2013) 15 SCC 624/ 2013 SCALE 513
5. AIR 1967 SC 1590
6 AIR 1979 SC 381
7 2010 (2 ) SCC 200
8 AIR 1956 SC 541 : 1956 SCR 476
9 (1994) 6 SCC 632
10 1969 CriLJ P&H 1318
11 1975 CriLJ Kerala 1304
12 1976 CriLJ Delhi 215
13 1974 CriLJ Karnataka 66
COURTESY : Supreme Court of India website  

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