NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has pulled up the Madhya Pradesh government for wrongly prosecuting Congress leader KK Mishra under criminal defamation charges based on a complaint filed by the office of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Mishra was sentenced to two years in jail.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi not only quashed the case, but questioned the very foundation of the complaint, maintaining that the state machinery was not to be used for prosecuting the leader. The bench criticised the public prosecutor for filing the complaint without applying his mind and stating that he is prosecuting the case “on the orders of the state government”.
Mishra, chief spokesperson for the state Congress, was prosecuted under criminal defamation charges after he alleged that certain people were given government jobs from the native place of Chauhan’s wife. He had also claimed there were phone calls made by relatives of Chauhan to some Vyapam scam accused.
Taking note of the Congress leader’s statements, the CM’s office sought Mishra’s prosecution under provisions meant to penalise those defaming constitutional functionaries.
The bench said that such statements may be defamatory, but then in the absence of a nexus between the act and the discharge of public duties of the office, the government could not have sought Mishra’s prosecution.
Questioning the prosecutor’s role, the bench said he was supposed to apply his mind independently to the facts of the case before prosecuting the complaint, but he rather went ahead only because there was a sanction from the government.
“The haste with which the complaint was filed indicates the public prosecutor may not have applied his mind to the materials placed before him,” said the bench, holding that the government’s complaint was not
maintainable at all.