: Court dismisses appeals of journalists for publishing concocted interview of Anant Kumar Singh : Conviction for publishing concoted interview of Anant Kumar Singh upheld : Journalists to serve jail term for publishing concoted interview of Anant Kumar Singh : Shri P.N. Srivastav, Additional District Judge, TECP-V, Lucknow has dismissed on 22.11.2012 the appeal of Raman Kirpal (reporter), A.K. Bhattacharya (editor), Deepak Mukherjee and Sanjiv Kanwar (printers and publishers) against the conviction order passed by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (Customs) in the year 2007 for publishing a concocted interview of the then District Magistrate Anant Kumar Singh by the sensational title “Any man will rape a woman in a lonely spot: DM, Muzaffarnagar” along with his photographs.
Cancelling the bail of the convicts, the Court has also asked them to surrender before the Magistrate for serving the jail term awarded by the trial court. The appellate Court has also directed the trial court that in case the appellants do not surrender immediately then warrant may be issued to secure their presence for executing the order of the court.
It may be recalled that Raman Kirpal, then a reporter of the Pioneer, New Delhi had written an interview titling “Any man will rape a woman in a lonely spot: DM, Muzaffarnagar” which was published in the New Delhi and Lucknow editions of the English daily newspaper ‘The Pioneer’ and Lucknow edition of Hindi daily ‘Swatantra Bharat’ in October, 1994 in which the District Magistrate was shown to have said that it is human tendency that when a woman is seen at a lonely place in the jungle, any man will be inclined to rape her. Immediately after the publication, the same day Shri Anant Kumar Singh sent his denial about giving any such interview to Raman Kirpal to the editor of Pioneer A.K. Bhattacharya and chief editor of Swatantra Bharat Ghanshyam Pankaj. Being dissatisfied with the continued criminal act due to non-disclosure of corrects facts by the newspaper, Shri Singh filed 3 defamation cases in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Lucknow.
After 13 years of long drawn criminal trial, in the year 2007, the Magistrate held Raman Kirpal, A.K. Bhattacharya, Ghanshyam Pankaj, Deepak Mukherjee and Sanjiv Kanwar guilty of defaming Anant Kumar Singh, the then District Magistrate Muzaffarnagar by publishing a false and fabricated interview. The court awarded the reporter Raman Kirpal one year imprisonment with Rs. 5000 fine and 6 months imprisonment with fine of Rs. 2000 each to other 4 convicts. All the 5 convicts filed separate appeals against the order of the Magistrate. During the pendency of the appeal, one of the appellant Ghanshyam Pankaj died.
After hearing both the parties of the appeal, Judge Shri P.N. Srivastav held that Shri Anant Kumar Singh has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the interview written and published by the appellants have lowered his reputation in the eyes of common man while the appellants have failed to produce any evidence which may even suggest that the reporter has taken the interview of Shri Singh. Taking into account the gravity of the offence, the appellate court refused to give the appellants the benefit of probation under the Probation of First Offenders Act.
It may be further recalled that on a separate complaint filed before the Press Council of India in this case by Shri Singh, the Press Council had, in February, 1996, also censured these 3 newspapers for their misconduct.