Pending cases are immune to comments made by parties: HC

 “Whether the statement is true or defamatory has to be ascertained only after the disposal of the suit. Pending matters are immune to comments made by the parties,” the High Court of Karnataka said. It based its judgement on the dictum in a Supreme Court verdict (State of Bihar Vs Kripalu Shankar) and quashed a criminal case alleging defamation over a statement made in the pleadings of a case.

One Kallavva had filed a complaint against two persons — Yallappa and Manoj Kumar — alleging that they had made defamatory statements against her in a court proceeding. The two approached the HC seeking to quash this criminal case.

Kallavva and her sisters had filed a suit for cancelling a sale deed of 23 acres of land executed by their father Huchappa Lakkannavar in favour of Manoj Kumar in 2016.

Kallavva alleged that in the written statement and evidence affidavit Manoj Kumar and Yallappa “made defamatory imputations making out a clear offence punishable under Section 500 of the IPC” and filed a complaint against them.

The two had claimed in the statement that Huchappa had not married Fakkiravva and Kallavva and her sisters were not the daughters of Huchappa. Therefore they did not have any right over the property. Kumar and Yallappa approached the HC challenging the complaint filed against them based on this statement.

Allowing the petition and quashing the criminal case pending against them,

Justice Shivashankar Amarannavar said: “The averments mentioned in the pleadings filed before the judicial forum is not coming under the purview of Section 499 IPC, wherein the proceedings are pending and subjudice. Hence, no prima-facie case has been made out.”

Their advocate had argued that the statements in the property dispute were made in good faith.

The HC said: “The petitioners have made these averments that are very relevant for the issues, which according to them have been stated with due care and attention. Whether these averments made by the petitioners in the written statement are statements of truth or not is going to be decided by the Civil Court because there is a relevant issue on the relationship of the plaintiffs with deceased Huchchappa. Therefore, it cannot be said at this stage that the petitioners have made the above averments without due care and attention.” 

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