Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan, before whom the case came up, said, “It has been stated ‘J’, when the said person was the chief minister and should have been addressed as Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and not as ‘J’. While printing and publishing matters with regard to the leaders of the country or state, the petitioners are supposed to give respect and address them accordingly,” the judge said.
However, the court dismissed the plea against the paper after pointing out that the allegations, based on which the criminal complaint was filed, did not touch upon the conduct of the aggrieved person in discharge of her public function.
“The allegation, even if taken as it is, can only be construed as a personal defamation. Therefore, the complaint that was filed by the City Public Prosecutor cannot be maintained since it does not satisfy the requirements of Section 199 (2) of CrPC wherein the allegations must directly touch upon acts or conduct of the concerned servant in discharge of his or her public function.” the court held.
“If the defamatory statement is personal in nature, this special procedure will not apply and it is only the concerned person who has to file the complaint in his or her individual capacity. The law on this issue is well settled,” Justice Bhavani noted.
As it quashed the proceedings, the court added: “It is seen that this complaint is pending from 2016 without any progress. No useful purpose will be served by keeping this complaint pending.”
The State had contended that the newspaper had indulged in making wild allegations against the CM in connection with the 2015 floods and thereby defamed her.