The City Civil Court at Ahmedabad decreed a suit filed by retired IPS officer D. G. Vanzara alleging defamation and seeking compensation from the Gujarati newspaper Sandesh.
Judge C.S. Adhyaru, in the judgment passed on Thursday, has directed the newspaper to pay an amount of Rupees Fifteen Crores to the Plaintiff as compensation within a month and has also restrained the newspaper from publishing any derogatory or defamatory articles against Vanzara.
Vanzara was the former Deputy Inspector-General of Police in Gujarat.
The newspaper had published a series of articles in the years 1997 and 1999 alleging corruption and misuse of his official position against Vanzara while working as the Superintendent of Police (Operation) with the Anti-Terrorist Squad.
Vanzara filed a criminal complaint as well as a suit claiming compensation of Rs.51 Crores from the defendants. Sandesh Limited, the company that owns the newspaper and its Managing Editor, four editors and a photographer were made Defendants in the suit.
The Defendants contended that at the most, the publication can be said to be negligent. However, the Court held that the Defendants had failed to take corrective or remedial measures after publication.
The Court also rejected the argument of maintainability raised by the Defendants on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction of the Court.
"It is an admitted fact that the plaintiff is having impeccable reputation in the society and in the police department in particular being a retired I.P.S. Officer. His integrity was never questioned", the Court notes in its judgment.
While deciding the quantum of damages to be awarded, the Court noted that the newspaper has a wide circulation. The Court also considered the fact that the newspaper did not apologize and that it has not appeared before the Magistrate's Court where the criminal proceedings for Defamation are pending. "All this clearly shows that the attitude of the defendants was extremely casual, callous and cavalier", the Court held.
"Under the circumstances, from the evidence, documents and citations relied upon by both the parties, in the considered opinion of this Court, the plaintif is entitled to damage for Rs.15 Crores. Plaintif has also claimed interest @ 12% p.a. on the damages awarded. However, plaintif has not shown as to how he is entitled for interest, more so for the interest @12% p.a. Hence, prayer of the plaintif about the interest cannot be granted", the Court held.
The Court directed Defendant Nos. 1 and 2 i.e. Sandesh Limited and Falgunbhai Chimanbhai Patel, the Managing Editor to pay the compensation within a month. They have also been restrained from publishing any defamatory article against Vanzara.