Cyber Defamation

Introduction-

When two or more computers are connected together then it creates space for communication is called Cyberspace. It is used for the computer network where the communication takes place by electronic mood. And the crime committed by using computer or by internet is known as Cyber Crime, For example- Cyber Defamation. Harming the reputation or defaming any person on social media or in cyber world is known as Cyber Defamation or Online Defamation. In Cyber Defamation internet and computer is used to Post or publish any defamatory or unusual material to harm the reputation of any person. Even if any person sends an email to other person that contains defamatory material and publish any defamatory material on any website through which reputation of a person get infringed this is known as Cyber Defamation. Cyber Defamation affects the welfare of the society as a whole. 

 

OFFENCES OF ONLINE DEFAMATION

  • Tagging on Obscene Photo-

If any person tags his/her friend or anyone on an obscene picture with or without malafide intention due to which person tagged in the picture loses his reputation can file case against the person who tagged him/her. Tagging any person on obscene picture or post is similar to sending offensive message on web.  

  • Using Abusive Words-

Using Abusive words on cyberspace is very serious offence and it happens very often. Even use of asterisk marks in place of abusive word is also a crime as the another person is losing his/her reputation due to these abusive words on their post, message or comment. 

  • Phishing-

In such crimes or fraud the attackers tries to attain information like login information or account’s information by masquerading as a reputable individual or entity in various communication channels or in email. Some other cyber crimes against individuals includes Net extortion, Hacking, indecent exposure, Trafficking, Distribution, Posting, Mastercard , Malicious code etc. The potential harm of such a malefaction to an individual person can scarcely be bigger.

  • Ridicule any person on Cyberspace-

It means when any person ridicule or mock any other person or a group by message, post, comment or even by liking and sharing any post on social media then this would be a very serious offence and could get in trouble.

  • Sending threatening message-

If any person sends any threatening message to any other person on social media or any other platform and because of that if that person loses his/her reputation in the eyes of society then it will also be considered as a serious offence. 

  • Email Spoofing-

This method could also be a forgery of an email header. this means that the message appears to possess received from someone or somewhere aside from the genuine or actual source. These tactics are usually used in spam campaigns or in phishing, because people are probably going to open an electronic message or an email when they think that the e-mail has been sent by a legitimate source.

  • Creating False Document-

As internet and cyberspace is very easily accessible nowadays, many people make fake accounts for mocking people and even they make false document for harming others reputation, this is also a serious offence and is punishable.

 

PROVISIONS FOR CYBER DEFAMATION IN INDIA-

Cyber Defamation have been defined under many provisions of different statutes depending upon the offence committed by the offender. All the offences of Cyber Defamation are different depending upon how much harms it is causing to the victim.

  • Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000-

This section does not particularly deal with the cyber defamation but destruction deals with the punishment of sending offensive, in appropriate and abusive messages on cyberspace. This provision says that- 

  1. if any information that is miserably offensive or has intimidating or menacing character; 
  2. if any information or content which the person knows to be false, but uses it for the purpose of causing any inconvenience, danger threatening, intimidation, injury, hatred, enmity, persistently makes by using computer resources for a communication device; 
  3. also, if any electronic mail or any electronic message is sent for the purpose of causing any inconvenience or for misleading the recipient about the origin of such message 

shall be punishable with the imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

  • Section 124A of the Indian Penal code, 1860-

This section talks about Sedition, which says that if any person ridicules or mock any Minister or Government official in cyberspace or in any other place then it would amount to sedition under the section. Section 124A say that if any person by words, either speaking or writing, by sign or visible representation or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring hatred or excite disaffection towards government established by law in India shall be punished with the imprisonment for life or with fine which may be added or with the imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or with fine which ay be added

  • Section 469 of the Indian Penal code, 1860-

This section defines forgery, which says that if any person creates false documents or fake account with the intent of harming the reputation and respect if another person is forgery under the section. Section 469 say that if any person commits the offence of forgery by using or creating documents or electronic record which is forged with the intent that it shall harm the reputation of other person or knowing that it can be used for the purpose shall be punished with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extent to 3 years and with fine

  • Section 499 of the Indian Penal code, 1860-

This provision particularly deals with the defamation in a real world, which also includes threat and menace of online defamation or cyber defamation. This provision says that-

  1. Whosoever, by using word or sign or by visible representation either spoke or intends to read, makes or publishes any imputation which is concerned with any particular person intending to harm or by knowing or having the reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation and respect of such person, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.  
  2. Law of defamation defined under section 499 also got extended to “Speech” and “Document” which is in electronic from by the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • Section 500 of the Indian Penal code, 1860-

This provision defines Punishment of the offence of defamation which is defined under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 500 says that if any person defames another person, then he shall be punished with the imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years or with fine or with both

  • Section 503 of the Indian Penal code, 1860-

This provision defines Criminal Intimidation, which covers the offences which is done by the use of computer devices through emails, messages, etc for the purpose of intimidating the reputation, respect and for threatening the person. The provision says that if any person threatens another person with any injury to his reputation, property or his person, or to the reputation or person of anyone who is connected with the person, with the intent to cause alarm to that person or to make any person to do certain act which he/she is not legally bound to do or to omit to do certain act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threats, commits criminal intimidation

  • Section 506 of the Indian Penal code, 1860-

This section talks about the punishment of Criminal Intimidation which is defined under Section 503 of the IPC. Section 506 says that if any person commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years or with fine or with both.

 

JUDICIARIES VIEW-

In SMC PNEUMATICS (INDIA) PVT. LTD. V. JOGESH KWATRA, wherein a disgruntled employee sent derogatory, defamatory, vulgar and abusive emails to the company’s fellow employers and to its subsidiaries all over the world with an intent to defame the company along with its managing director, the High Court of Delhi granted ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendant from defaming the Plaintiff in both the physical and in the cyber space. It’s a landmark case of cyber defamation. 

In KALANDI CHARAN LENKA V. STATE OF ODISHA, the petitioner was stalked online and her fake account was made by the accused. Also, obscene messages were sent to her friends with the intent of defaming her reputation and respect. The HC held that the act committed by accused falls under the offence of cyber defamation and is liable for the offence of defamation for making her fake account and sending obscene images and texts.

In SWAMI RAMDEV & ANR. V. FACEBOOK INC. & ORS.,  Justice Pratibha Singh recently passed an order for removing all the defamatory posts and contents posted by people on yoga guru Baba Ramdev, without any territorial limit stating that if any of the content is located on computer resource that it is uploaded from India then the Indian Court should have the international jurisdiction to pass worldwide injunctions

An appeal was filled by the Facebook in the court of Division Bench of Delhi High Court . The ground of the appeal was that instead of the fact that the Plaintiff was aware of the person who uploaded the content Baba Ramdev has not shown any strong prima facie case of irreparable loss. Facebook also contended that global takedown order is against the national sovereignty and international. Comity because it interferes with defamation laws of other countries. The said court also undermines the immunities granted to them in other jurisdictions

In RAJIV DINESH GADKARI V. SMT. NILANGI RAJIV GADKARI, In the case, Respondent after receiving a divorce letter from her husband, she filed a suit against her husband for harassing her by uploading her vulgar and defaming pictures on cyberspace. The court registered the case and the maintenance of Rs. 75,000 per month has been claimed by the respondent (wife).

 

SUGGESTIONS-

It is recommended to possess an independent cyber-crime investigation cell which is under the Central Bureau of Investigation and it must be established on its own so that it comes directly under the central government and also specifically contend with cyber-crimes including cyber defamation. There should be cyber cell police stations in every district of every part of India headed by Investigation officers who are well versed with cyber laws so that it will help them to handle the offenders promptly. Awareness programs should be initiated by the govt to enlighten people about cyber-crimes and also about the precautions that ought to be taken to guard themselves.

Judiciary may also play a major role if special cyber courts are established and judges with specialized technical knowledge may preside over these courts. So, there’s a necessity to coach judicial officers, police personnel to settle cases of cyber-crime expeditiously and more effectively. Information and communication technology keeps on changing, and other people ought to get updated with its development. So, there’s need to amend existing laws to stay pace with technology and stop such offences happening and affecting people at large.

 

 

 

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