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Amit Shah defamation case: Jharkhand High Court refuses to quash proceedings against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

The Jharkhand High Court has refused to quash proceedings in a criminal defamation case filed against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for calling Union Home Minister and former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah a murder accused.

The order was recently passed by the single-judge Bench of Justice Ambuj Nath.

The High Court noted that the statements made by Gandhi on March 18, 2018 were prima facie defamatory in nature under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

BJP leader Navin Jha had filed a complaint against Gandhi, alleging that during his speech in 2028, the Congress leader had criticised the BJP and accused Shah of being involved in a murder.

A magistrate court at Ranchi had earlier dismissed Jha’s complaint, after which the BJP leader filed a revision petition before the Judicial Commissioner in Ranchi.

On September 15, 2018, the judicial commissioner in Ranchi overturned the order that dismissed the complaint petition and sent it back to the magistrate court.

The judicial commissioner directed the magistrate to review the evidence on record again and issue a fresh order regarding the determination of prima facie material to proceed with the matter.

The magistrate then passed a fresh order on November 28, 2018 and concluded that there was sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case against Gandhi under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which penalises defamation. Consequently, the magistrate issued summons for Gandhi’s appearance.

The Congress leader moved the High Court against the Ranchi judicial commissioner’s order.

The High Court adverted to Explanation 2 to Section 499 of IPC as per which imputations against a company, association or collection of persons would fall within the scope of defamation.

It was evident that the expression “any person” in Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code included a company or association or a collection of a persons. BJP was a prominent political party, which was well identifiable and came within the meaning of Explanation-2 of Section 499 of IPC, noted the single-judge Bench.

Advocate Kaushik Sarkhel appeared for the petitioner

The respondents were represented by Senior Advocate Ajit Kumar, along with Advocates VK Sahu, Kumar Harsh, Abhishek Abhi, Surya Prakash and Suraj Kishore Prasad.

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