On June 13, a Special Court in Bengaluru took cognizance of a Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) defamation case filed against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Dy CM DK Shivakumar and disqualified Congress MP Rahul Gandhi u/s 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case concerns the advertisement dated May 5, 2023, wherein “false and reckless” allegations were levelled against the BJP under the title “Corruption Rate Card.” The complainant has alleged that the advertisement is a result of the accused’s “fanciful imagination,” and that the same is “purely imaginary and fictitious.” The complainant further submits that the advertisement was published on the first page of all newspapers.
The court said, “After having heard the arguments of the Lrd. Counsel for the complainant and also on perusal of the averments made in the complaint and the documents produced, I am satisfied that the complainant has made out a prima – facie case to take cognizance of the offences under section 499 and 500 of IPC and to proceed further.” The court also took cognizance of the offence u/s 499 and 500 of the IPC against the accused, and posted the case for Sworn Statement of the complainant and witness, if any, by July 27, 2023.
The complainant BJP has alleged that the accused has resorted to the “most mean and cheap tactic” by making “reckless imputations” against the BJP causing it to be published as an advertisement in mainstream newspapers on May 5, 2023. The BJP alleged that all accused have conspired against the BJP to defame the complainant by levelling false allegations.
The impugned advertisements were published during the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2023. The complainant submits that the accused have given rates under the name and style of “Appointment and Transfer Rates” for various positions, and have indicated “KSDL 5cr-15cr, Engineers 1cr-5cr, Sub-Registrar 50 lakh-5cr, Bescom 1-cr, PSI 80 Lakh, Assistant Professor 50 lakh -70 lakh, Lecturer 30 lakh- 50 lakh, FDA 30 Lakh” and other positions. BJP has averred that these allegations are false, malicious and are the fanciful imagination of the accused.
Furthermore, the BJP submits that the accused have also given rates under the name and style of “Job Rates” and listed various prices for the jobs such as “BDA Commissioner, KPSC Chairman, DC and SP, VC, AC and Tahsildar.” The complainant alleged that the impugned advertisement suggests that the various positions listed with suggested prices are being sold at the rate which is mentioned in the advertisements.
The BJP has alleged that the accused said that the covid supplies department has a 70 per cent commission and that similar false accusations have been made with regard to other departments such as PWD contracts, mutt grants, procurement, egg supplies and road contracts, with commission mention as a percentage between 30 to 75 per cent.
The complainant has further alleged that the accused have defamed the BJP by levelling false allegations that the then-BJP government in Karnataka looted over Rs 1.5 lakh crore, calling it “40% Sarkar.” The complainant alleges that the accused have resorted to this “mass attempt to defame the complainant.”
The complainant further avers that the accused’s use of “trouble engine Sarkar” instead of the popular “double engine Sarkar” is meant to malign the image of the BJP, which also forms the Government of India, and to affect its chances in elections.
BJP also submits that it sent a legal notice dated May 6, 2023, to the accused seeking to withdraw the allegations; however, the accused did not comply with the BJP’s demands. Thus, the BJP prayed to the court to take cognizance of the case u/s 499 and 500 of the IPC.