Consider all aspects before issuing summons, court tells judges

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Delhi High Court Tuesday held that the metropolitan magistrates should apply their mind and should consider the entire material and evidence placed on record before issuing summons against someone.

Justice S.N. Dhingra passed the direction on a summoning order passed by a metropolitan magistrate entirely on the basis of the complaint of one party.

“While passing a summoning order, it is obligatory on the part of learned metropolitan magistrate to consider the material and evidence placed on record in the light of offence allegedly committed and analyse it so as to come to a conclusion whether the commission of offence in terms of provisions of law was disclosed or not,” the judge said, setting aside the trial court order.

“Just reproducing a part of the evidence and stating that he was satisfied that there was sufficient material on record to summon the accused only shows non-application of mind,” he said.

The order was passed on a petition filed by D.K. Pandey against summons issued by the trial court on a complaint filed by two dealers in central Delhi under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code. The dealers objected to Pandey issuing a circular that the two were not authorised dealers of his company and cautioning customers that he would not be responsible for genuineness and quality of the items sold at higher discounts.

The dealers went to court contending that they had a high reputation in the market and this circular harmed their reputation because it gave an impression that the tools being sold by them were not genuine or of good quality.

“I find that the complaints were a gross misuse of judicial process and the petitioner was within its right to issue a circular to the customers and general public and to inform them that the complainants/respondents were not their authorized dealers and then to caution that if their brand of tools were being sold at higher discounts then public should take caution about the genuineness and quality,” Justice Dhingra said in his order.

He also said: “The learned metropolitan magistrate while passing summoning order had only discussed that the complainant was a company of repute. He did not discuss how the issuance of circular amounted to defamation of the complainants’ company. Such an order is a mechanical order since the trial court did not apply mind whether the ingredients of the offence were prima facie satisfied or not in view of the explanations given in the section itself.”

The judge observed that it is the duty of the court to consider if the alleged act falls under any of the explanation or not. “The learned metropolitan magistrate in this case abdicated this obligation of analyzing the material in the light of provisions of Section 499 IPC.”

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