Publication for exposing corruption not libellous: Court

Exposing corruption is “for public good” and news article written for the same without any “ulterior motives” cannot be termed as libellous, a Delhi court has said, while absolving an editor and a co-editor of a local weekly of the charges of causing defamation.

The court said the first exception to section 499 of the IPC (defamation) requires to be seen whether the imputation is for public good and added that exposing corruption “certainly” falls under that category.

It said there may be cases where the expose is made with ulterior motives, but it needs to be proved by the complainant.

“Exposing corruption of the government department is certainly for public good. It is the duty of every responsible citizen to expose corruption. There may be certain cases where an individual or any other body of individual or corporate body exposes corruption for seeking revenge or for ulterior motives. In such cases, the ulterior motives have to be proved by the complainant,” said metropolitan magistrate Rajinder Singh.

The court’s order came on a defamation case filed by a former Indian Institute of Public Administration professor, seeking prosecution of the editors of Jan Vikas, a Delhi-based weekly, for publishing a news items, ‘No action by municipality despite court orders’.

The complainant told the court that the “libellous” news naming him was published in December, 2007. The article was about “unauthorised constructions” in South Extension-I, he said.

‘Refund price of slippers’

With the soles of a pair of slippers giving way within three hours after their purchase from a footwear shop ‘Forever’, belying the customer’s hope of its durability, the footwear retailer has been ordered by a consumer forum to refund its cost.

Besides ordering the shoe retailer to refund Rs 630, a Delhi district consumer forum also asked the showroom to pay Rs 1,000 as cost to R P Tomar who had alleged that the soles of the pair of slippers bought by him had got detached within three hours.

The forum said the slippers was defective as its sole was detached and thus the showroom was liable to refund its price. During the pendency of the complaint, the showroom’s owner did not put any appearance to contest Tomar’s plea.

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