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Allahabad High Court quashes summons against Editor-In-Chief of Dainik Jagran

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The Allahabad High Court quashed a summoning order issued by a Court of the Magistrate against the Editor-In-Chief of the daily newspaper Dainik Jagran.

A Single Bench of Justice Syed Aftab Husain Rizvi passed this order while hearing an application U/s 482 Cr.P.C filed by Sanjay Gupta.

The criminal misc application U/s 482 Cr.P.C is filed to quash the entire proceeding of complaint case under section 500 of IPC, P.S Sadar Bazar, District Shahjahanpur pending in the court of ACJM-II, Shahjahanpur and the summoning order dated September 19, 2017 passed in the aforesaid case as well as order dated October 21, 2021 passed by Special Judge, SC/ ST Act, Shahjahanpur.

The opposite party no 2 filed a complaint before the concerned Magistrate alleging therein that a news item was published in Bareilly edition of Dainik Jagran, daily newspaper alleging defamatory and malicious imputation against the complainant and by the said publication the accused persons had acted to defame him.

By the said news, the Dainik Jagran Published a news item that on the order of DIG a case has been registered in which his and his brother’s name i.e Ram Prem was published. By the said news item it was published that a case in connection with attempt to murder and assault (maarpeet) had been registered, whereas he and his brother are reputed and respected persons and furthe they are never involved in any criminal case. By the said news item the Bureau Chief Devendra Deva, Editor-in-Chief Sanjay Gupta, printer and publisher and General Manager Anugrah Narain Singh have discredited the complainant.

He sent a notice on April 29, 2016 however neither they have given any reply nor published any disapproval.

The complainant examined himself under Section 200 Cr.P.C and produced other witnesses under section 202 Cr.P.C.

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The Magistrate by the impugned order has summoned the applicant and three others to face trial for offence under section 500 IPC. Applicant and other co-accused preferred a criminal Revision before the Sessions Judge which has been dismissed by the order dated October 21, 2021.

The submissions of the counsel for the applicant is that Vipin Mishra filed an application dated 04.04.2016 lodging an FIR against the persons named in the application and at the instance of DIG Range, FIR crime under section 420 IPC was lodged against Ram Pratap and Dixit Guest House Shahjahanpur.

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In the said FIR, it is mentioned that the FIR crime under sections 307, 323, 504 & 506 IPC, P.S Powayan was registered against Ram Pratap S/o Baburam, Sangam S/o Ram Pratap, Brijesh (opposite party no.2) and Ram Pratap (brother of opposite party no.2). Proceeding/ said case is going on. So the aforesaid impugned news item was published on the basis of the version of the FIR dated April 27, 2016.

Counsel contended that the applicant is Editorin-Chief of Jagran Prakashan ltd and is not responsible for day to day reporting in local editions and same is done under knowledge and supervision of editors and local reporters. Applicant has no knowledge of the reports being published in the local edition and could not have been impeached as accused.

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It is also contended that there are no specific allegations against the applicant and in absence of any positive allegations, the Magistrate was not justified to summon him. The Magistrate has also failed to consider that one witness examined by the complainant is his real brother while the other is also a near relative and there is no independent witness.

It is further contended that in the case there was no intention to cause damage to the image of opposite party no 2 and hence section 500 of IPC is not applicable.

Additional Government Advocate and counsel appearing for the opposite party no 2 contended that the news item published in daily news paper was based on totally wrong facts which stands corroborated from the police report.

According to the police report, no criminal case is registered against the complainant (opposite party no.2) and his brother. It is further contended that the news item is based on false facts just to disrepute the complainant and his family.

The Magistrate enquired the matter and on the basis of material available on record found that a prima-facie case is made out and has passed the summoning order. There is no illegality or infirmity in impugned summoning order. The revision filed against the impugned summoning order has also been dismissed, as there was no sufficient ground to quash the impugned summoning order.

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“It is undisputed that the applicant is Editor-in-Chief of Jagran Prakashan Ltd. There is no specific averment in relation to him in the complaint.

Being Editor-in-Chief in absence of specific allegations against the applicant the legal bar will apply against him. He cannot be held responsible and prosecuted for any news item published in any edition of the newspaper. The Magistrate has failed to consider the legal aspect of the matter and has passed the summoning order, in violation of legal provisions, hence the summoning order in respect of the applicant is not sustainable and is liable to be quashed”

-the Court observed.

“Application U/s 482 Cr.P.C is allowed and the impugned summoning order dated September 19, 2017 in respect of only applicant- Sanjay Gupta is hereby quashed”

-the Court ordered.

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