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  • SC raps trial judge for committing procedural irregularity in Rahul Gandhi defamation case

    July 28, 2016

    Burying the "apologise-or-face-trial" option it offered Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday turned its attention to a different issue - did the trial judge commit an irregularity by seeking a police report in the case? The defamation case stems from Rahul's remark that RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi.

    The consideration of police role in a defamation case is a reprieve for Rahul, who refused to tender an apology for the statement as the SC seemed to be in a more accommodative frame of mind on Wednesday.
     
    Even before Rahul's counsel Kapil Sibal or other lawyers could respond to the July 19 'apologise-or-face-trial' option, a bench of justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman said it appeared that the Bhiwandi court had committed a procedural irregularity by seeking a police report in the criminal defamation case. filed by RSS worker Rajesh Mahadev Kunte. This could mean the case being sent back to the trial court to be considered all over again.
     
    Speaking for the bench, Justice Misra said: "Police has no role as far as procedure to be followed by the trial court in dealing with cases arising out of Sections 499 and 500 (of IPC, for criminal defamation) is concerned."
     
    Kunte's counsel U R Lalit took the court's question in his stride and said: "The bench's view that police have no role in a criminal defamation case despite registration of an FIR is a new aspect which requires a closer look at the criminal procedure code." The bench said it wanted a debate on this issue and fixed hearing for August 23.
     

    OUR TAKE

    It is sad that a case of such importance to many and involving such a famous personality, the court committed such a procedural irregularity. The consequence of this error might alter the route the case takes. But the final result should not be affected by any of this and the guilty should be punished after all.


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