DEFAMATION

ABSTRACT

The basic reason for existence of defamation laws in India is to protect an individual’s reputation against any attack on their reputation. Defamation refers to any false statement or any word spoken that has the tendency to lower the respect of any individual. This article would tend to provide a basic introduction to defamation then it would lead essentials of defamation and then this article would cover different types of defamation and the punishment for defamation.

DEFAMATION

Defamation can be defined as a situation when an individual restricts any other individual from his/her part of reputation. Reputation is usually in the right minded people and all around the society.  Defamation is considered a threat to anyone’s reputation and its considered a crime because reputation is a very difficult things to build.

“Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter expected, to defame that person”.[1]

ESSENTIALS FOR DEFAMATION

THE STATEMENT SHOULD BE PUBLISHED

Defamation only happens when there is a publication of any defamatory sentence which has the ability to lower the reputation of an individual in the minds of right minded people of the society. The concept of right minded person means that a human with fair and average intelligence and should not belong to that special class of people whose values are not accepted by the society generally.

As stated by the Hon’ble Court in the case of “Ramdhara v Phulwatibai”[2] the court held that the act of the defendant abusing the defendant in front of everyone will be counted as defamation as the defendants words has the ability to lower the reputation of the plaintiff who was widow as it was a abuse on her chastity.

THE STATEMENT SHOULD BE IN REFERENCE TO THE PLAINTIFF

If any statement was published and it could be reasonably inferred from that the statement is referred to the plaintiff then the defendant is liable

As stated in the case of “Newstead v London Express Newspaper Ltd”[3] the defendant published an article in the newspaper stating that, Harold Newstead a Camberwell bar man has been convicted for the crime of bigamy. But somehow the story came out to be true as there was a man named Harold Newstead. So, the court considered these words as defamation as it lowered the reputation of the plaintiff.

DEFAMTION SHOULD BE PUBLISHED

Publication means that the defamatory sentence is known to some other person than the individual against whom defamation is made.

As stated in the case of “Mahender Ram v Harnandan Prasad”[4] the defendant wrote a defamatory letter to the plaintiff in Urdu and the plaintiff didn’t know Urdu. So, he asked a third person to read. The court said it will not be considered defamation till the letter was written but will be counted as defamation as soon as the third person reads it.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEFAMATION

SLANDER

Slander refers to the false statement which is usually made orally in order to defame other individual. Damages under Slander are not presumed they must be proven by the party suing. As stated in the case of “Girish Chunder Mitter vs Jatadhari Sadukhan”[5] the plaintiff filed a suit against defendant for causing mental pain, loss of reputation and insult which was caused due to use of excessive abusive language by the defendant

LIBEL

Libel is referred as a false defamatory statement which is in writing or been published with an intention to lower the reputation of any individual. As stated in the case of “Sunilakhya Chowdhury vs H.M. Jadwet”[6] the defendant made a false statement against a firm in one of the editions of its weekly magazines which  resulted in loss of reputation of the plaintiff as he as the owner of the firm.

DEFENCES FOR DEFAMATION

JUSTIFICATION BY TRUTH

Truth is a flat out guard. On the off chance that the announcement made is genuine, at that point it doesn’t comprise slander. The weight of evidence is on the respondent who is guaranteeing the safeguard. For example, X says something in a meeting about Y enjoying betting and Y documents a suit against him. On the off chance that X can legitimize or demonstrate it, at that point Y’s case will be excused. In Radheshyam Tiwari v. Eknath, the litigant couldn’t demonstrate the realities distributed by him and in this way was held at risk for defamation.

FAIR AND BONAFIDE COMMENT

Nothing is slanderous which is a reasonable remark in the matter of open intrigue. The litigant can profit this resistance when he has only offered a reasonable remark in a matter of open intrigue. This barrier depends on open strategy which gives each individual the option to remark and scrutinize with no pernicious expectation the work or exercises of open workplaces, entertainers, creators and competitors just as those whose vocation depends on open consideration. Any reasonable and fair supposition on a matter of open intrigue is additionally ensured despite the fact that it isn’t accurate. There is no meaning of a matter of open intrigue. By and large, a matter of open intrigue can is a subject which welcomes open consideration or is available to open conversation or analysis.

ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE

It gives the individual an outright option to offer the expression regardless of whether it is slanderous, the individual is safe from risk emerging out of maligning claim. By and large, outright benefit excludes disparaging articulations made:

  1. During judicial proceedings,
  2. By government officials,
  3. By legislators during debates in the parliament,
  4. During political speeches in the parliamentary proceedings and,
  5. Communication between spouses.
FAIR COMMENT AND JUSTIFICATION DISTINGUISHED

The supplication of reasonable remark is accessible just in regard of the two realities and feeling, it isn’t important to demonstrate reality of the remark. At the point when legitimization is argued in regard of issues of feeling, the respondent must demonstrate not just that he really held the perspectives communicated yet in addition that they were exact.

PUNISHMENT FOR DEFAMATION

“Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”[7]

“Whoever prints or engraves any matter, knowing or having good reason to believe that such matter is defamatory of any person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.[8]

“Whoever, sells or offers for sale any printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter, knowing that it contains such matter, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.[9]


[1] Section 499 of Indian Penal Code

[2] 970 CriLJ 286

[3] (1940) 1 KB 377

[4] AIR 1958 Pat 445

[5] ILR 26 Cal 653

[6] 1968 AIR (Cal) 266

[7] Section 500 of Indian Penal Code

[8] Section 501 of Indian Penal Code

[9] Section 502 of Indian Penal Code

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