Supreme Court To Mathrubhumi For Using the Expression ‘Lottery Mafia’ In One Of Its Articles

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed displeasure over Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi’s use of the term “Mafia” in one of its news stories to characterize a man in the lottery business.

“We cannot assess the use of the adjective.”

A completed bank Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka They were hearing the Sikkim High Court’s order quashing the summons issued by a Gangtok magistrate against the managing editor, managing director and other senior officials of Mathrubhumi Malayalam newspaper in a 2020 defamation case filed by Santiago Martin. .

After discussing the matter for a long time, the councilor of the newspaper announced that they are ready to apologize and give some clarity to the matter to put the whole issue at rest.

Considering the same, the Bank recorded in order:

“Counsel for the petitioner says that they will take some time to look into the matter in view of the submissions made by the Ld.Counsel to publish the respondent in a proper manner to resolve the issue.”

Senior counsel, Mr. Aryama Sundaram, appearing on behalf of Martin, asked the Bench to note in the order that the newspaper should apologise. He suggested that he should be featured and on the front page of the newspaper.

However, the Bank was reluctant to categorically issue directions to apologize to the newspaper. said –

“We will not force them, they will have to take a call. (Otherwise) tomorrow they will say that the Court told us to apologize.”

Initially, the advisor to the managing director of the popular newspaper informed the Bureau that the statement was made by a minister and that he was only mentioned in the news article. As a result, he stated that a complaint was filed in Gangtok, Sikkim and the Managing Director, Managing Editor and Joint Managing Editor were included. He alleged that the case was deliberately filed in a remote area of ​​Sikkim.

Justice Kaul asked: – Who is Santiago Martin?

The Council replied: “He is a gentleman who runs lottery. This gentleman has 23 CBI cases against him.”

Justice Kaul felt that the use of the adjective “Mafia” was not appropriate.

“You also get into trouble by using adjectives that shouldn’t be used. It’s okay if you don’t use ‘Mafia’ in the statement.”

The lawyer replied that the newspaper merely quoted the statement of Kerala Finance Minister DTM Thomas Issac.

Countering his submissions, Mr. Sundaram, who was on notice, argued:

“In defamation cases where a material is published, the publisher must also be prosecuted, the editor must be sued. Otherwise, in the case of a book, a publisher can say that the author wrote it, I just published it. … The editor must clean up an article and only then is published

He emphasized that the expression is used prominently and in the headlines of the news program.

“This is their headline. The headline is editorial, it says ‘Loteria Mafia. The paper takes it as a headline.”

Justice Oka stated that the headline seems to be referring to what the minister said.

Mr. Sundaram submitted that his client is a businessman carrying on a business which is protected under Article 19(1)(g) in the judgments of the Apex Court. He added –

“The problem is that northeastern states conduct lotteries…Kerala wants to conduct its own lotteries but does not like lotteries run by northeastern states.”


Martin filed a complaint under Sections 499, 500, 501, 502 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code alleging that the publication of a defamatory statement caused him harm – “Lottery mafia like Santiago Martin will not be allowed to operate in Kerala“- By Thomas Issac, former Finance Minister of Kerala.

He accused the publication and its management of conspiring to publish articles in the newspaper and its online version with the sole intention of damaging its name and reputation. Apart from the Mathrubhumi company, its managing editor, managing director and joint managing editor have also been charged in the private complaint.

The Sikkim High Court dismissed the petition filed by The Mathrubhumi Printing and Publication Company Limited and others, saying there was no reason to interfere with the order passed by the court. objected without proving that the complainant had at least personal knowledge of the content of the item prior to publication.

Mathrubhumi said the news was published by them in good faith, believing that the minister’s version was true and that it was a report of the opinion of a public official on a public issue and public policy and therefore privileged. Under Section 499 of the IPC.

The topic appears on December 9, 2022.

[Case Title: P.V. Chandran And Ors. v. Santiago Martin And Ors. SLP(Crl) No. 11187/2022]

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