Tushar Kanti Ghosh v Bina Bhowmick Case deals with the meaning of defamation, defence of it as a qualified privilege, and what happens when defamation is actuated by malice.
- Amrit Bazar Patrika’s newspaper editor (TK Ghosh–defendant–appellant) published the alleged article “Patrika Copies Looted: Another Daylight Robbery by Discharged Employees” mentioning Bina Bhowmick (plaintiff–respondent) as the Union leader & controller which was termed as ‘Mrs. Bhowmick’s Union’ whose members and hirelings committed daylight robbery.
- It also stated ‘Mrs. Bhowmick’s Union is not a Union at all, but that ut was deliberately affiliated to a Central Union as a subterfuge’.
- The plaintiff filed a defamation suit for the alleged libel against the defendant.
- The Trial Court held the defendant guilty of the defamation as the publication contained defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff personally. Defendant overstepped limits of fair comment and it had been actuated by malice.
- Court awarded Rs. 5000/- as compensation to the plaintiff and also granted an injunction to restraining the defendants from further publishing the libelous words concerning plaintiff. This is the appeal by the defendants in this Court.
Contentions and Issues:
1. Whether the publication was libelous, i.e. defamatory?
2. Whether the publication was within the defendant’s right of fair comment?
3. Whether the qualified privilege attaching duty of publishing information of public interest protected the defendants and to protect their own interest within their subscribers and advertisers?
4. Whether the defendants were actuated by malice in publishing the libel complained of?
Ratio & Decision in Tushar Kanti Ghosh v Bina Bhowmick Case:
1. The publication in the present case represents the plaintiff as a person who has been guilty of trickery and employment of hirelings in conducting the affairs of the Union of which she is the President who is responsible for the violence, including daylight robbery. It defames her as regards her personal conduct of the duties as the Union President but also defames her as regards her general character on which such allegations are bound to react.
2. The lines of the alleged paragraph state as if the so-called strikes under the plaintiff’s guidance have nothing to do with trade unionism. According to the plain meaning of the words used, they accused the plaintiff of trickery, coercion, and disloyalty to trade union principles and dishonorable conduct. It was an obvious attack on her character and credit.
3. The onus of establishing that the right of fair comment protected the words is on the defendant whom he clearly failed to establish as the statements were not based on truly stated facts and they were actuated by malice.
4. And proof of malice defeats the plea for the qualified privilege. Allegations that the plaintiff has employed hirelings for the commission of daylight robberies or that she got her Union affiliated as a subterfuge are no comments, but statements of acts.
5. The plaintiff has established through positive pieces of evidence that the accusations made against her were libelous in fact and in law.
6. APPEAL DISMISSED.
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