The term "thulla" used by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was made with reference to the Delhi Police officers who are "inefficient", have "low productivity rate" and take money from street vendors, a court here has said while dismissing a criminal defamation complaint against the AAP leader.
"It has not been said by the respondent (Kejriwal) that all Delhi Police Personnel are thulla. On the other hand, the use of word 'koi' (someone) before 'thulla' clearly shows that the said imputation is neither directed towards complainant individually nor towards whole of Delhi Police as a class but towards an indeterminate and unidentifiable class of police officers of Delhi Police who are having lower productivity rate than other reasonable Delhi police officers," Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg said, in his order.
The court's order came on a criminal defamation complaint filed against Kejriwal by a constable of Govindpuri Police Station who had claimed he was insulted by the CM's remark in a TV interview in which he had referred to police as "thulla".The court, while dismissing the complaint, said, "To be more precise the said word appears to have been made with reference to those police officers who lack in efficiency and indulge in taking money from rehdi patri walas."
It also said the statement given by Kejriwal during his interview on a TV channel on July 17, it is "not per se defamatory in as much as the meaning of term 'thulla' suggests that it is relative term to denote the performance level of a worker against fellow workers.""It is neither directed to the complainant individually nor to entire Delhi Police as a class but to an indeterminate and unidentifiable class of inefficient and corrupt police officials... Thus, there are no sufficient grounds to proceed further against the respondent (Kejriwal) and to summon him under section 500 of the IPC," the court said.
In the order, the magistrate also referred to the recent Supreme Court verdict on pleas challenging constitutionality of provisions of defamation law.The court also said before the complainant can maintain a complaint under Section 499/500 (defamation) of the IPC as a member of Delhi Police, he must show that the alleged defamatory imputation 'thulla' was directed against entire Delhi Police.
The court said, "It is a settled legal position that in order to determine whether a particular word is defamatory or not, the statement needs to be read as a whole and no word can be read in isolation out of the context," it said.It also rejected the contention of the complainant that at the stage of summoning an accused, the court should not scrutinize the evidence in great detail. "At the stage of summoning an accused for any offence, this court is duty bound to carefully analyze the material available before it...The court cannot be a silent spectator and need to be circumspect while summoning an accused for a criminal offence so that it does not become an instrument of oppression and needless harassment of any citizen in the hands of a private complainant," it said.
The dismissal of this complaint may have come as a relief for Kejriwal, but he has already been summoned for July 14 on a similar plea of a constable of Lajpat Nagar police station by a court here which held that prima facie he committed the offence of defamation.
Constable Harvinder, complainant in the present complaint, had sought summoning of Kejriwal in the case for the alleged offence under section 500 (defamation) and 504 (insult intended to provoke breach of peace) of IPC contending that the word used by him had demoralised the entire police agency.The plea, filed through lawyer L N Rao, had contended that "using a derogatory and demeaning term like 'thulla' to refer to police personnel is equivalent to referring to all Delhi Police officials as lethargic and unproductive.""This word has, therefore, harmed the reputation of the complainant in the eyes of general public including his family, relative and friends," it had claimed.