Himachal Pradesh HC orders retrial of defamation case against Virbhadra
Shimla: Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday ordered retrial of a defamation case against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh by trial court of Judicial Magistrate, Una.
The case was filed by SM Katwal, former chairman of State Subordinate Services Selection Board.
Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary passed the order on two separate petitions filed by Katwal, challenging the judgement passed by the Sessions Court Una. The Sessions Court had quashed summons issued by the Judicial Magistrate to Virbhadra Singh in two separate defamation cases.
Katwal, who was a member of HPSSB from 1998-2000 and Chairman from 2000 to August 2003, had filed criminal defamation case in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, Una alleging that he was defamed by the speeches made by Virbhadra during public meetings at Rohara and Kotla during bye-polls alleging sale of government jobs to persons from outside the State by the HPSSSB.
The Court of Judicial Magistrate had issued summons to Virbhadra Singh on August 16, 2005.
Later, Singh filed a revision petition in the Sessions Court, which quashed the orders of Judicial Magistrate Court on the ground that the complainant could not be called the person aggrieved as the imputation at the most can be said to be against the Board and that too when the Complainant was not the Chairman of the Board.
Katwal challenged the orders in the High Court submitting that the Revision Court had discussed the evidence like a trial court at final stage, whereas the pre-charge evidence is yet to be led and the whole evidence is to be considered at the stage of framing charges.
He maintained that the Board (HPSSSB) is a collection of persons and its defamation is also defamation of its members and the Chairman and that no fresh recommendation/selection was made by the Board after his Chairmanship to the date of statement made by Singh.
The High Court observed that the Revisional Court has a limited jurisdiction to see if there is a legal bar against continuance of criminal proceedings or framing of charges.
The Court observed that," the Sessions Court was not justified in quashing the orders of the Magistrate Court and discussing the evidence like final stage of the case".
The court directed that the records of the case be sent back to trial court for further proceedings.
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