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The Supreme Court of India has ruled in favour of Sanjay Upadhya, the owner of the ‘Sunday Blast’ newspaper, quashing criminal defamation charges filed against him.

The case, arising from a complaint by Anand Dubey, alleged that Upadhya’s publication of a news article had tarnished Dubey’s image and has defamed him causing injury to his reputation

The complaint, filed under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, accused Upadhya of allowing the publication of an article titled “Advocate ne pan masala vyavasayi par karaya jhuta mamla darj” in the edition dated February 24, 2013. The complaint contended that the article was published without verifying the facts, causing harm to Dubey’s public image.

Initially, the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Hoshangabad, rejected the complaint on June 12, 2017. The magistrate, in the order, highlighted the importance of the Fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The magistrate concluded that the publication did not merit criminal prosecution. It was stated that the publication was made in good faith and did not warrant criminal prosecution.

Undeterred, Dubey sought a revision, leading to the Additional Sessions Judge, Hoshangabad, overturning the magistrate’s decision on October 15, 2018. However, the Supreme Court, in its judgment delivered by Justice Mehta, overturned the decisions of both the Magistrate and the Additional Sessions Judge. The Supreme Court, in its judgment, echoed the magistrate’s reasoning, emphasizing the constitutional right to freedom of speech. The court concluded that the news article was published in good faith and was a legitimate exercise of the fundamental right.

The Supreme Court set aside the orders of the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, dated January 29, 2020. Consequently, all proceedings against Sanjay Upadhya under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code were quashed.

This landmark judgment reaffirms the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and expression, providing relief to media professionals against potential defamation cases arising from their lawful reporting activities.

CASE NAME: Sanjay Upadhya V Anand Dubey

NAME: Japnit Kaur Jaggi, BA LLB (Hons), COLLEGE: Uttaranchal University, INTERN UNDER LEGAL VIDHYA

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