The Punjab and Haryana HC in the case of Raj Kumar Saini vs. Sant Kunwar (CRM-M 30950 of 2019) has ruled that only the family members or the near relatives of the deceased person can claim to be the ‘aggrieved party’ to file a defamation complaint under S. 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as “IPC”).

Sant Kanwar who was a follower of Late Choudhary Matu Ram Hooda filed a complaint of defamation against former Member of Parliament Raj Kumar Saini alleging that he had made several defamatory statements against the Late Mr. Hooda. To seek the quashing of the complaint and the summoning order issued by the Magistrate, Mr. Saini moved to the High Court under Section 397 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Referring to S. 199 of CrPC, the court said that a defamation complaint can be made by ‘aggrieved person’. Justice Sanjay Kumar stated that Explanation 1 to S. 499 of IPC says that imputing anything to a deceased person would amount to defamation, if such imputation would have harmed the reputation of that person had he been alive and such imputation is said to be hurtful to the sentiments of his family or other near relatives.

The court held that the ‘aggrieved person’ must have a personal interest, being either the person defamed himself or in the case of a deceased person, his family member or other near relative. Since Sant Kanwar was not a family member or a relative of the deceased person, the defamation complaint was quashed, and the court held that he cannot assume unto himself the status of an ‘aggrieved party’ under S. 499 of IPC.