Updated: August 6, 2021 1:51:49 pm
The Rajasthan High Court has dismissed a defamation case against actor Akshay Kumar over his 2017 film Jolly LLB 2.
In 2017, the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Jaipur Metropolitan Sanganer, had taken cognizance under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (defamation) against Kumar on the basis of the trailer of the film and had issued summons.
Kumar had then approached the High Court challenging the order. On Wednesday, a bench of Justice Satish Kumar Sharma said that the ACMM court “order has been passed without due application of mind and without considering all relevant aspects of the matter,” and quashed the order.
“The learned trial court was obliged to consider the trailer in context of the entire film and then only a logical conclusion was required to be drawn. Admittedly, the impugned order of cognizance has been passed on the basis of the trailer only,” the High Court said.
Besides this, the High Court said that “the petitioner is an artist, who has no personal opinion or intention or any ill will against any individual or the petitioner or the class of lawyers,” and thus, the ACMM court order also “tends to violate fundamental rights” of the petitioner of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
Earlier, Kumar’s counsel, senior advocate Rajendra Prasad, Mr. Rajendra Prasad, had submitted that the complaint was filed merely on the basis of the trailer of the film, while the entire film was scrutinised by the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court in 2017 and in compliance of its order, some scenes were deleted. Subsequently, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had issued a certificate to the movie.
Prasad also said that in the past four years, “no objection from any section of the society has been levelled against the film. The trailer was also approved by the CBFC and the presumption is in favour of the film, so released after due certification by the CBFC that the same has no content of defamation against anyone.”
Prasad also argued that under IPC section 499 (defamation), the alleged defamatory content should be such, which may cause defamation of a particular person or persons whose identity can be established. “In this case, the complainant individually has not been defamed in any manner. Besides this, the film is a work of fiction and an artist has to execute his skillful role and he has no personal opinion or intention to defame anyone,” he said.
However, demanding that Kumar’s petition be quashed, the counsel for the complainant contended that “the trial court at the preliminary stage of cognisance is not obliged to minutely or meticulously examine the merits of the case. Rather cognisance has to be taken if sufficient grounds for proceedings exist on a complaint and statements recorded under CrPC sections 200 202.”
The High Court said that going by the judgments cited by the complainant, the trial court is indeed not supposed to meticulously examine the merits of the case at the stage of summoning the accused under section 204 of the CrPC. “But, at the same time, it is imperative on the part of the trial court that it should be satisfied before summoning the accused that sufficient grounds for proceeding are available on record,” the High Court observed.
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