30 Jan 2010

Reputation of a person not linked to his wealth: High Court

In a recently reported decision, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has declared that the respect a person commands and dignity one carries is not linked to the wealth one owns; respect and reputation of a person is not dependent on the richness of the person and rather it is the human values one imbibes which are determinative. The High Court was dealing with the challenge to an order passed by the lower court wherein a suit for defamation (i.e. one for damages for causing harm to the reputation of a person) was dismissed by the lower court on the premise that the claimant was a pauper, he did not command any reputation in the society. The High Court, however, disagreed and reversing the decision declared the law as under;

The ld. trial Judge has further assumed that as plaintiff has instituted a suit in forma pauperis so being not possessed of sufficient worldly possessions can't have any respect in the society and it is on these two assumptions the suit of the plaintiff has been dismissed. The respect and reputation of a person is not dependent upon how much wealth he has accumulated . A human being is entitled to lead respectful life in the civilized society. The human rights of an individual do pronounce that every individual shall be entitled to have respect in the society. Pronounced and professed values of the society do not state that only that person who has amassed worldly possession is entitled to respect and a poor man has no respect. If this assumption is followed and accumulation of wealth is made the touch stone for determining the reputation and respect one can have in the society, then a great dis-service will be done to the entire society. Such type of approach would prompt the people to amass wealth by hook or by crook and entire society will be ushered into an anarchical situation. No reasonable person will accept the reason given by ld. trial Judge for dismissing the suit of the plaintiff. Our society is already adrift in the ocean of debasing the human values. Conscious efforts are to be made to ensure that there is no further deterioration in the human values. The ground on which suit has been dismissed is not only un reasonable but also offends once conscience.

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