Karnataka High Court Refuses To Quash Defamation Case Against News Reader, Says She Acted On Behalf Of Channel & Allegations Can't Be Bifurcated
The Karnataka High Court has refused to quash a defamation case registered against a news reader of Kannada news channel. A single judge bench of Justice K Natarajan dismissed the petition filed by Shesha Krishna who works for BTV News, refusing to accept one of the contention raised by her that she is only the news reader.
The bench said,
“The allegation made against the accused persons cannot be bifurcated as the petitioner is the newsreader, acted on behalf of the accused Nos.1 (owner of channel) and 2 (reporter) which (news) was telecasted by the accused 1 and 2. Therefore, without petitioner-accused No.3, the proceedings against accused Nos.1 and 2 cannot be sustainable. Therefore, the petitioner is also required to face trial.”
As per the complaint, accused No.1-TV channel telecasted defamatory statements and false news against the complainant which was read out by the petitioner. Scandalous words were repeatedly uttered which were defamatory and the false imputation has lowered the dignity of the complainant, it was alleged.
After registering a private complaint, the trial Court took cognizance, which is under challenge.
The petitioner submitted that there is no enquiry made by the Magistrate under Section 202 of CrPC. She submitted that the complainant is from Udupi and the accused is from Bengaluru and therefore, there is no case made for proceeding against the petitioner. Moreover, there was a compact disc (CD) produced by the complainant, which was not opened by the Magistrate and no certificate is produced under Section 65 of Evidence Act, it was averred.
The court went through the order of the Magistrate taking cognizance of the complaint and found that the Magistrate had called the complainant, recorded the sworn statement, recorded the statement of witness and thereafter, by narrating the entire averments made in the complaint and referring to various judgments of the Supreme Court, finally passed an order against the petitioner as per Section 204 of CrPC.
“Recording the sworn statement of the witness belonging to the complainant is nothing but an enquiry under Section 202 of Cr.P.C. Thereafter, the Magistrate took cognizance by narrating the facts and reasons for taking cognizance. Ex.C.1 was marked which is a CD and it cannot be said that the Magistrate has not viewed the CD, but he has categorically stated that he has perused the CD and documents. Therefore, the first contention of the petitioner's counsel is not sustainable under law,” the Court said.
It also rejected the contention of the petitioner that no certificate under Sections 65 of Evidence Act was produced. It said “The said certificate can be produced and marked, at the time of examination in chief of the witness, and the production of the certificate at the time of sworn statement, is not necessary...Therefore, for non production of the certificate under Section 65 of the Evidence Act, the criminal proceedings cannot be quashed.”
Noting that cognizance of the complaint was taken by the Magistrate in the year 2017 and in spite of the lapse of five years, the accused persons are dragging the matter for one or the other reasons and delaying the process, the court directed “The trial Court to dispose of the matter as early as possible, but not later than three months from the date of receipt of copy of this order.”
Case Title: Shesha Krishna And Krishn Hegde
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION NO.6027 OF 2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 39
Date of Order: 23-01-2023
Appearance: Advocate B.V. Pinto for Advocate Raju C N for petitioner.
HCGP P. Nataraju for respondent.