The Allahabad High Court held that Amar Ujala Publication Ltd., its Editors, and the Publisher acted within the exceptions provided in Sections 499 (1) & (3) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) concerning defamation.

The Court underscored that accurate and genuine reporting, even if it affects a person's reputation, does not necessarily constitute defamation.

The petitioners sought to quash a summoning order and proceedings of a complaint related to the publication of a news item. The news item had made allegations against certain judicial officers and lawyers in Lucknow, claiming corruption in granting bail and posting judges.

A Bench of Justice Rajeev Singh held, “Court is of the view that the action of the applicants is squarely covered in the Exception (1) & (3) of Section 499 I.P.C. Section 499 along with Exception (1) & (3)”

Senior Advocate Prashant Chandra appeared for the Applicants and Advocate Avinash Singh Bisen appeared for Respondent 2.

The Amar Ujala Publication Ltd. and its staff argued that they had published the news in good faith based on authentic information, without any malicious intent.

The respondent, a former District & Sessions Judge, claimed that the news tarnished his reputation and alleged that the accused withheld the mentioned communication and an Intelligence Bureau report from him.

The applicants contended that their actions fell under the exceptions to Section 499 I.P.C., which deals with defamation. They cited that their actions were in the public interest and done without malicious intent.

Referring to previous judgments, the Court highlighted that accurate and true reporting published in good faith does not necessarily harm a person's reputation.

The Court concluded that the accused's actions were covered under the exceptions of Section 499 I.P.C. The proceedings were therefore quashed, stating that the complaint was an abuse of legal provisions and no offense was made out. The Court said, “this Court is of the view that the complaint in question is nothing but a sheer abuse of the legal provisions and no offence, as alleged, can be said to be made out.

The proceedings related to the complaint were quashed, and the applications by the accused were allowed.

Cause Title: Amar Ujala v. State of U.P. & Anr., [2023:AHC-LKO:85813]

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