CONCEPT OF DEFAMATION

Defamation is injury to the reputation of a person. If a person injures the reputation of another, he does so at his own risk, as in the case of an interference with the property. A man’s reputation is his property and if possible more valuable than his property.

TYPES OF DEFAMATION:-

1) LIBEL:- It is the representation made in some permanent form. For eg: writing, printing, or statute.It is addresses to eye.

2) SLANDER:- It is tge publication of a defamatory statement in a transient form. Examples of it may be spoken by words or gestures.It is addressed to ear.

Under English criminal law, a distinctiom is made between libel and slander. There libel is a crime but slander is not. Slander is only civil wromg in England. Criminal law in India does not make any distinction between libel and slander. Both libel and slander are criminal offences under section 499 of I.P.C.

ESSENTIALS OF DEFAMATION:-

1) The statement must be defamatory: Defamatory statement is one which tends to injure the reputation of the plaintiff. It is the publication of a statement which tends to lower a persob in the estimation of right thinking members of society. The defamatory statement could be made in different ways. For instance, it may be oral, in writing, printed, statue or by some conduct.

Case law:- In south Indian Railway Co. V. Ramakrishna, the railway guard who was an employee of the defendant south Indian Railway company went to a carriage for checking the tickets and while calling upon the plaintiff to produce his ticket said to him in the presence of the other passanger : ” I suspect you are travelling with a wrong ticket”. The plaintiff produced the ticket which was in order. He then sued the railway company contending that those words uttered by the railway guard amounted to defamation. It was held that the words spoken by the guard were bonafide and under the circumstances of the case, there was no defamation.

2) The statement must refer to Plaintiff:- In an action for defamation the plaintiff has to prove that the statement of which he complains is refered to him. It is immaterial that the defendant did not intend to defame the plaintiff.

Case law: In Ritnand Balved Education foundation v. Alok kumar, the defendant was an in home legal attorney of the plaintiff. After leaving tge job the defendant joined the services of london firm. He was alleged to have supplied confidential information and other relevant documents obtained by fraudulent means to the opposite solicitors which were used by them in cases against tge plaintiff. The illegal acts of the defendant had caused wrongful loss to the plaintiff as well as damage and harm to the reputation of its founder president and its intitutions. Since the suit for defamatiom was filed by the plaintiff without joining the founder president of the institutions the court held it is not to be maintainable.

3) The statement must be published:- Publication means making the defamatory matter known to some person other than the person defamed and unless that is done no civil action for defamation lies. Communication to the plaintiff himself is not enough because defamation is injury to the reputation and reputation consists in the estimation in which others hold him and not a man’s own opinion of himself.

Case law: In Mahendra Ram V. Harnandan Prasad the defendant sent a defamatory letter written in urdu to the plaintiff. The plaintiff did not know urdu and therefore the same was read over to him by a third person. It was held that the defendant was not liable unless it proved that at the time of writing the letter in urdu the defendant knew that the urdu was not known to the plaintiff and it would necessitate reading of the letter by a third person.

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