Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan in his order relied on several judgements made by the Supreme Court and high courts. The court observed that it has been repeatedly held that an advocate who acted professionally as per the instruction of his or her client cannot be made criminally liable for the offence of defamation under Section 500 of IPC unless the contrary is alleged and established.

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Advocates acting professionally as per client’s instruction not liable for defamation: Madras High Court
The petition in the high court by the advocate and the committee of creditors sought to quash the defamation complaint.

Published: 02nd October 2020 09:40 PM | Last Updated: 02nd October 2020 09:40 PM | A+A A-
Madras High Court Madras High Court (File photo| EPS)By Harish MuraliExpress News Service
CHENNAI: Advocate who acted professionally as per his client’s instruction cannot be made criminally liable for defamation, the Madras High Court has observed.

Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan made the observation while quashing a criminal defamation complaint made against advocate ML Ganesh and his client for statements made before National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in an insolvency proceeding case.

The case pertains to an application filed before NCLT seeking to remove chartered accountant V Venkata Siva Kumar as the resolution professional by an advocate on behalf of a committee of creditors. The
chartered accountant subsequently filed a criminal defamation complaint against the committee of creditors and the lawyer. He alleged that the statements made by them were defamatory.

The petition in the high court by the advocate and the committee of creditors sought to quash the defamation complaint.

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Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan in his order relied on several judgements made by the Supreme Court and high courts. The court observed that it has been repeatedly held that an advocate who acted professionally as
per the instruction of his or her client cannot be made criminally liable for the offence of defamation under Section 500 of IPC unless the contrary is alleged and established.

“It is held that a lawyer is an advocate, one who speaks for another. Naturally beyond what his client tells him the lawyer has no opportunity to test the truth or falsity of the story put forward by the client,” the judge said in his order.

“Therefore, no lawyer could ever be prosecuted for defamation in regard to any instructions which he might have given to his lawyer, because it is the lawyer’s business to decide…. whatever
responsibility might ensue from acting upon those instruction would be his, and no one else’s, is opposed to the entire trend of decisions defining the scope and extent of the privilege conferred upon the
lawyer.”

The court then quashed the defamation complaint against the lawyer and committee.

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