Debating India
Home page > Photocopieuse > Defamation complaint against magazine Editors quashed

Defamation complaint against magazine Editors quashed

Friday 25 May 2007, by VENKATESAN*J.

Reference to Godse as RSS member cannot be termed defamatory

NEW DELHI: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed a defamation complaint against Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief of India Today, Prabhu Chawla, Editor, and Mohini Bhullar, Publishing Director, for publishing a news item on `Gandhiji’s assassination’ referring to Nathuram Godse as an RSS worker.

Acting on the complaint filed by Mukesh Garg, the trial court by an order dated October 13, 2004, issued summons to the petitioners (respondents in the complaint) to stand trial in the case. The petitioners moved the High Court for quashing the complaint and the summons.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel R.S. Cheema argued that the article could not be termed defamatory. "There is no imputation made to the RSS as an organisation which could give it a cause to complaint," he said.

Agreeing with counsel’s submissions, Justice Mahesh Grover, in his order, said: "A perusal of the article in question reveals that Nathuram Godse was described as an RSS worker and the RSS was separately described as an organisation which subscribed to `self-righteous Hindu nationalism’."

The Judge said: "History and historical figures, who once strode this earth and stood as colossus on it have always been an enigma for the subsequent generations. Nathuram Godse was no different and, accordingly, he has been the subject matter of intense studies, which tried to unravel his past, and also tried to understand the motives of actions and killing of the Father of the Nation. In the midst of such speculation based on historical and archival records, he and his association with the RSS have been commented upon variously."

The Judge held that referring to Godse as a member of the RSS could not be termed derogatory or defamatory. To say that a person belonging to a particular organisation was defamatory without ascertaining and determining the role of such organisation would be an extreme fallacy. "In any case, this fact has been denied by inserting a clarification in the subsequent issue."

Quashing the complaint and the summons, the Judge said: "An article has to be read in its entirety and an isolated passage cannot be read out of context. The court is cast with a duty to decide what impression the article would produce on the mind of an unprejudiced reader, if read in this context. Such an article can hardly be termed to be scandalous unless a hypocritical society wants to turn a Nelson’s eye to the realities."

See online : The Hindu

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0