This article is written by Anushka Singh, a second-year student, pursuing BBA-LLB at Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University. This article analyses the case of Rustom K. Karanjia v. KMD Thackersey (1970), a case of libel (defamation).


This is a case of defamation under tort law. The plaintiff, a businessman alleged that the article published by the defendants has caused harm to his reputation. Here, defendant no. 1 is the editor of the weekly newspaper ‘Blitz’. Defendant no. 2 is a Private Limited Company that owns the newspaper. Defendant no. 3 is the printer of that issue of Blitz and defendant no. 4 is a joint tort-feasor, who was subsequently joined to the suit as it was by his agreement that the article was published.

Case Number

Appeal No. 20 of 1965 and Suit No. 319 of 1960 

Equivalent Citation

Rustom K. Kranjia v. KMD Thakersey AIR 1970 Bom 424


High Court of Bombay-

Justice D.G. Palekar and Justice V.D Tulzapurkar

Decided on

Decided on 22nd July 1969

Relevant Act/ Section

Libel- under Tort of Defamation

Brief Facts

Khrishnaraj Thackersey, a prominent businessman and industrialist of Bombay alleges to have been defamed in his reputation, character and credit by Rustom Karanjia (Journalist) who wrote an article in the weekly issue of the newspaper ‘Blitz’ on 24th September, 1960.

It was further claimed by the plaintiff that the defendant wrote this article with intention of malicious harm towards him and achieved so by publishing false statements. This matter was first heard in a trial court, where the decision was held in favour of the plaintiff. However, the defendants took this matter further, to the Bombay High Court.

Issue Before the Court

  • Can the defence of qualified privilege be applied in this case?
  • Amount  damages are unfair and unreasonable.

Procedural History

This matter was first taken to the Trial Court, where the learned Judge ruled in favour of the plaintiff and denied all the defences of the defendant, in addition, he decreed a full claim of damages of Rs. 3,00,000 along with an injunction.

An appeal was further filed by the defendants in the Bombay High Court. The High Court affirmed the decision of the Trial Court, saying the article was  in malice but also partially allowed the appeal by lowering the amount of damages from Rs. 3,00,000 to Rs. 1,50,000.

Decision of the Court

The Court held that the appeal is partially allowed. The decree given by the trial court was confirmed by the Bombay HC, it was passed against defendants 1, 2 and 4. However, a modification to the amount to be paid as damages was made; the amount of 3 lakhs was agreed by the Trial Court which the HC reduced to 1.5 lakhs.

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