In case of persons in general, the complaint may be made by the person aggrieved who may not necessarily be a person defamed. For instance, a husband might be considered as the aggrieved person where his wife is defamed So also, the father-in-law with whom the daughter-in-law is living, might be the aggrieved person when the daughter-in-law is defamed.
Whether a person is aggrieved by the defamatory matter or not depends upon the nature of offence and the circumstance of the case. Thus in K.M. Matthew v. TV. Balan, a report stated that some leaders of a strike indulged in a disgraceful conduct. It did not give all the leaders a right to prosecute the reporter because such an indeterminate and unidentified category of persons cannot be said to have suffered in their reputation by the contents of that defamatory report.
A complaint filed by a person authorised by the Board of Directors by power of attorney to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of the company is maintainable.
In the case of P. Karunakaran v. C. Jayasuryan, a Kerala newspaper published a news item saying that there was insufficiency of sandal wood pieces for the cremation of Late Rajiv Gandhi, the then President of the Indian National Congress. It was held that any member of the Congress Party could not be considered as an aggrieved person and therefore, had no locus standi to file a complaint for defamation because it did not affect their reputation.
Where a complaint of defamation was filed by a co-operative society against an Assamese Weekly which published a news-item mentioning society’s Managing Director as “thief”, it was held that the society, could not be said to be an aggrieved person and hence had no locus standi to file a complaint against the Weekly.
Sub-section (2) mentions two exceptions to the rule contained in Section 199 (1) of the Code. One relates to minors, lunatics, idiots or persons who are sick or suffer from infirmity who are unable to file a complaint themselves. Therefore, in their cases, some other person may, with the leave of the Court, make a complaint on his/her behalf.
The other exception relates to defamation committed against dignitaries such as the President, Governors of State, Ministers etc. or any other public servants employed in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State, in respect of his conduct in discharge of his public functions. In their cases only a Court of Session can take cognizance of such offence, without the accused being committed to it, upon a complaint made by the Public Prosecutor in writing.
It must be stated that it is not enough that a person aggrieved by commission of an offence of defamation included in Chapter XXI, IPC is a public servant. He must also be a public servant employed in connection with affairs of the Union or the State at the relevant time of offence alleged by him.
Sub-section (5) provides that the Court of Session may take cognizance of any such offence as mentioned above only if the complaint is made within a period of six months from the date on which the offence alleged to have been committed.
The burden of proving that a valid sanction has been accorded rests on the prosecution and it must be proved that the sanctioning authority had given sanction after applying its mind to the facts on which prosecution for defamation was proposed to be launched.
Any irregularity or error in the accord of sanction for prosecution will not vitiate the trial unless such irregularity or error has resulted into failure of justice. The irregularity or error or omission in any sanction is curable under Section 465 of the Code.
The complaint under this section must be made within six months from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed. If the complaint is made after the expiry of such period, the Court of Session cannot take cognizance of the alleged offence.