The Karnataka High Court dismissed a criminal defamation case against retired High Court judges Justice MF Saldanha and PB D'sa after they issued unconditional apology and committed to not precipitate the matter further.

The case originated from a complaint filed by Advocate MP Noronha of Bangalore, alleging defamation under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, along with Section 66 of the Information Technology Act. It stemmed from a press conference by Justice Saldanha regarding Baptist D'Souza's case, where allegations of police inaction in response to property damage and molestation were raised against Jesuit priests.

Initially, the police closed the case due to insufficient evidence, but Noronha challenged this decision, resulting in criminal proceedings against Justice Saldanha and others.

A Bench of Justice N S Sanjay Gowda said, “In my view, in light of this apology tendered by accused No.3, this would be an appropriate case to quash the proceedings, since accused No.3 has expressed remorse and has given an unconditional apology. 4. Similarly, accused No.4 has also given an unconditional apology and has undertaken that he would not venture into unwarranted issues. In that view of the matter, the proceedings against accused No.4 shall also stand quashed.”

Advocate Dilraj Rohit Sequeira appeared for the petitioners and Advocate Cyril Prasad Pais appeared for the Respondent complainant.

Justice Saldanha submitted an affidavit expressing regret and confirming his decision to withdraw from further legal pursuit. Considering his age and mobility limitations, the Court accepted his apology and quashed the case against him and co-accused PB D'sa, who also apologized.

However, the Court declined to dismiss charges against two other accused individuals who did not issue apologies.

The Court said, “The other two petitioners have not filed any apology. In my view, having regard to the averments made in the complaint and the material that has been secured, there is no justification to invoke Section 482 of the CrPC and quash the proceedings as against accused Nos.5 and 6.”

Cause Title: P.B. D'SA & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Anr., [2024:KHC:24965]


Respondents: Government Pleader Rashmi Patel, Advocate Cyril Prasad Pais

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