Millennium Post

Calling a thief ‘a thief’ is no defamation: Delhi court

Special CBI Judge Praveen Kumar said that the act of petitioner Jai Kishan Bansal, who had written letters to the Central government officials about alleged tax evasion by M/s Bhushan Steel Ltd, cannot be termed as defamation as his acts were that of a “whistleblower” for public good.

“Calling a thief ‘a thief’ is no defamation. Thus, it cannot be said that by using the term ‘tax evading unit’ the petitioner has defamed the respondent,” the court said.

It said that Bansal’s act in reporting the matters to the concerned government agencies was an act of a ‘whistleblower’ and in case complaints against them are entertained “nobody will come forward to report such matters to the government agencies”.

The court, while allowing the criminal revision petition of Bansal, set aside the summon order of trial court and said when the letters are read as whole, the allegations that the respondent company connived with top public servants and did “underhand cash transaction” cannot be termed as defamatory.

“Even though bribe-giving as well as bribe-taking, both are offences under the Indian law but in our society no stigma is attached to a bribe-giver who is sometimes considered a ‘victim’,” the court said. It said that the complaints filed by Bansal prima facie appear to have been made in good faith, as on his information a successful raid was conducted in the year 2000 at a factory and branches of the company by Central Excise Department which had issued show cause notices for Rs 45 crore to the firm.
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