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Calcutta High Court Delivers Judgment In “Criminal Defamation” Case Against Retired Judge: Protection Under Section 197 CrPC (“Sanction”) and Section 77 IPC (“Good Faith”) Cannot Be Grounds For Dismissal Before Trial

While dismissing an unprecedented case for “criminal defamation” (under Section 500 IPC) filed by PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha against retired High Court justice Mr. G.C. Dey primarily on the ground for delay in filing (under Limitation Act), Justice Mr. Aniruddha Bose of Calcutta High Court has made several truly historic observations that may have significant impact to instill accountability in the justice delivery system in India.  The alleged defamatory comments made by retired Justice Mr. Dey as a HC judge in 2004 while acquitting three senior Kolkata doctors (Sukumar Mukherjee, Baidyanath Halder and Abani Roychowdhury).  The alleged defamatory comments made by the accused judge include assertions that Dr. Saha filed these lawsuits only to reap financial benefit by bringing American insurance companies to India. Ironically, the three doctors were later found guilty for medical negligence causing death of Dr. Saha’s wife, Anuradha, by the Supreme Court of India as well as the Medical Council of India (MCI).  Although Calcutta High Court dismissed this historic criminal case against a retired High Court judge, the court has agreed that the allegations that Dr. Saha’s prestige and reputation were damaged by the High Court’s judgment were correct.  Even more remarkably, the High Court has expressed a view in support of Dr. Saha that complaints against a judge or public servant should not be dismissed either on the ground of “sanction” under Section 197 CrPC and they cannot seek protection for “good faith” under Section 77 IPC at the initial stage.  Dr. Saha has said that although he is pleased with some of the views expressed by the High Court, he would move the Supreme Court seeking final justice.  A complete copy of the High Court judgment is attached below which is also available at the Calcutta High Court website.

HC Judgment (GC De) Oct. 2012

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