Holding that exposing corruption for “public good” and without any “ulterior motives” cannot be termed as libellous, a Delhi court has absolved two journalists of defamation charges.
“Exposing corruption at a government department is certainly for public good. It is the duty of every responsible citizen to expose corruption,” metropolitan magistrate Rajinder Singh said exonerating Shivanand Chandola and DN Shrivastava, editor and assistant editor of Jan Vikas, a Delhi-based weekly.
Ram Prakash, a former Indian Institute of Public Administration professor, had moved the court in November 2008 seeking to prosecute the two journalists for allegedly defaming him by publishing a report— No action by municipality despite court orders.
Noting that the first exception to section 499 of the IPC (defamation) required to be examined if the imputation was for public good, the court said exposing corruption “certainly” fell under that category.
However, the court said: “There may be certain cases where an individual or any other body of individuals or a corporate body exposes corruption for seeking revenge or with ulterior motives. In such cases, the ulterior motives have to be proved by the complainant.”
Prakash had alleged the “libellous” news, about “unauthorised constructions” in South Extension-I, naming him was published in December 2007. He had also alleged the weekly’s editor, who had also been his tenant, was involved in a property dispute with him.
But the journalist duo — Chandola and Shrivastava — denied the charges contending that the article was published in “good faith” for exposing corruption.