The Jharkhand High Court observed that the speech where Rahul Gandhi imputed Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) workers as “liars” who were “drunk with power” is prima facie defamatory in nature.

Navin Jha, a BJP party worker, had filed a complaint against Rahul Gandhi alleging the defamatory statements made by Gandhi were “an insult to all workers, supporters and the leaders who have been working selflessly for the Bhartiya Janata Party.

Gandhi in his speech had stated, “The people of this country will accept a lying Bhartiya Janata Party leadership drunk with power because they know that, what the Bhartiya Janata Party is designed for

A Single Bench of Justice Ambuj Nath observed, “Prima facie this statement points out that Mr. Rahul Gandhi has imputed that the Bhartiya Janata Party leadership was drunk with power and was composed of liars. It further means that the party workers of Bhartiya Janata Party will accept such person/persons as their leader. This imputation is prima facie defamatory in nature.

Advocate Kaushik Sarkhel represented the petitioner, while Sr. Advocate Ajit Kumar appeared for the opposite parties.

Gandhi filed a petition to challenge the legality of the order passed by a Judicial Commissioner which set aside the order passed by the S.D.J.M. who had dismissed a complaint petition under Section 203 of the Cr.P.C. filed by Navin Jha. The petition further challenged the order whereby the S.D.J.M. found the prima facie case to be true against the petitioner under Section 500 of the IPC and directed for issuance of process.

Gandhi argued that no defamatory statement was made against Jha since Jha did not come within the expression of a person aggrieved, as defined under Section 199 (1) of the Cr.P.C.

The Court explained that the expression “any person” under Section 499 of the IPC would include a company or association or a collection of persons. Considering that BJP was a prominent political party, it would come within the meaning of the Section.

The Court held that Jha, being a party worker of BJP, had locus standi to file a complaint under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC.

The Court remarked that Section 398 Cr.P.C. allowed for further inquiry into a complaint which had been dismissed under Section 203 Cr.P.C. The Judicial Commissioner had directed the Magistrate to "re appreciate the evidence available on the record and to pass an order afresh."

The High Court held there was no illegality in the order finding “the prima facie case to be true against Mr. Rahul Gandhi under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code.”

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: Rahul Gandhi v. The State of Jharkhand & Anr.


Petitioner: Advocate Kaushik Sarkhel

Opposite Parties: Sr. Advocate Ajit Kumar; Advocates V. K. Sahu, Kumar Harsh, Abhishek Abhi, Surya Prakash and Suraj Kishore Prasad

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