Justice Choudry loses defamation case

COURT | The High Court has dismissed a case in which retired judge Anup Singh Choudry sued five leaders of the Sikh Association in Uganda, accusing them of slander and defamation.

In 2014, Justice Choudry sued the Sikh Association in Uganda jointly with members of its management, claiming that he was defamed and slandered in connection to a December 2013 public notice in which the association indicated that he had no mandate to transact the business or conduct a function on its behalf.

But High Court Judge Andrew Bashaija dismissed the defamation case against the association chairman Ajit Singh Sagoo, NP Singh Panesar (vice chairman) and management committee members; Inderpal Singh Panesar, Gulzar Singh Sondh and Gurcharan Singh Marwaha, saying it is legally untenable.

Sendo Cleaners

“The plaint discloses no cause of action against the accused persons. It is settled law that where there is a disclosed principle, that is the proper party to sue and the agent should not be sued,” the judge said in his ruling.

“Even going by the principle of agency, principal in this case the defendants as members of the management committee of the Sikh Association in Uganda are agents.”

The case

According to the court record, the Sikh Association members, most of whom are in diaspora, were marking their centenary in Uganda and celebrating their icons such as the 100 years of the Sikh temple in Nakasero.

Choudry had initiated and funded the Sikh centenary celebrations together with Posta Uganda but the association management indicated that he is not a member of the community and that he did not hold any elective office or capacity.

The retired judge had claimed for damages for slander, libel and defamation as well as wrongful and unlawful interference with his function.

Justice Bashaija said the corporate personality principle provides that the compnay/association has a separate legal personality from its members.

“Applying the same principles to the instant case, it was clearly erroneous and legally untenable for the plaintiff (Choudry) to sue the defendants in their individual names as members of the management committee of the company for actions done in the name of the incorporated association,” the judge said.

According to the ruling, if Justice Choudry had wished to sue the defendants, he should have first applied to court and satisfied the conditions to have the ‘corporate veil’ of the Sikh Association of Uganda lifted to enable him properly sue the individuals for actions done in the name of the corporation.

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