Delhi High Court discusses territorial jurisdiction in defamation cases

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Valmiki J. Mehta, J. dismissed the appeal against a lower court order of return of the plaint to be presented to the court of correct territorial jurisdiction. The appellant filed the defamation suit against the respondent which was dismissed on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction.

The appellant majorly relied on two arguments. First, since the interview on which the defamatory article got published was done in Delhi therefore cause of action arose in Delhi. Second, since the head office of the appellant is in Delhi therefore the Court will have jurisdiction.

The Court rejected both the arguments. With regard to the first argument, the Court said that for a suit seeking compensation for defamation, publication is a sine qua non because it is only by publication of the alleged defamatory article that it comes to the knowledge of the general public and therefore, mere interview in itself taken of the appellant/plaintiff does not result in arising of cause of action in Delhi.

With regard to the second argument, the Court relied on the apex court in the case of Patel Roadways Limited, Bombay v. Prasad Trading Company,  (1991) 4 SCC 270, wherein the Court held that “merely because a corporate office or a registered office or a head office of a company is situated at a particular place the same is not sufficient to confer territorial jurisdiction if the cause of action is found to have arisen at a place where the defendant company has a branch office.”

The Court also observed that the appeal was a “gross wastage of judicial time”, and therefore dismissed the appeal with costs of Rs. 10,000 to be deposited with the website, within a period of two weeks. [Deepak Kumar v. Hindustan Media Venture Ltd., 2017 SCC OnLine Del 8970, decided on 06/07/2017]

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