‘The Public Prosecutor cannot institute a private complaint taking cudgels on behalf of the person defamed.’
Quashing criminal proceedings against a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member who allegedly made defamatory statements against former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the late J Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court observed that for the statements which do not in any way pertain to the public function discharged by the former Chief Minister, the office of the Public Prosecutor cannot be used to file the private complaints.
VPR Ilamparuthi, a DMK member, had allegedly made some defamatory statement attacking the late All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader, who was then the Chief Minister. The Public Prosecutor then filed private complaints before the Sessions Court, Tirunelveli.
Ilamparuthi approached the high court contending that he has not uttered anything with regard to the public function discharged by the then Chief Minister and that the complaints filed by the Public Prosecutor per se were not maintainable.
Justice GR Swaminathan, mainly relying on the recent judgment of the apex court in KK Mishra v the State of Madhya Pradesh, observed that though the statements are per se defamatory, they do not in any way pertain to the public function discharged by the then Chief Minister.
“It is, of course, saddening to note the low and vulgar of level practical discourse. The party to which the petitioner belongs is directly opposed to the party headed by the person defamed in this case. Therefore, while attacking political opponent, who happened to be the Chief Minister of the State during the relevant time, reckless and vulgar statements have been employed. But, they do not have a direct bearing on the public function discharged by her,” the court said.
The court also rejected the contention of the Public Prosecutor that it would not be open to the court to analyse and dissect the complaint to see whether the defamatory attack pertained to the discharge of public function or not. “The Court is certainly entitled to go through the defamatory statements said to have been made by the petitioner/accused and see if it has any bearing on the discharge of the public functions of the high dignitary and public servant defamed,” it said.
The court further said: “Therefore, this Court is of the view that in a case of this nature, the office of the Public Prosecutor cannot be used. In such cases, the person concerned must avail the remedy set out in law to a person personally aggrieved. The Public Prosecutor cannot institute a private complaint taking cudgels on behalf of the person defamed.”