Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code talks about the reputation of that person. The person making such imputation should have the knowledge or a reason to believe that such imputation will ruin the reputation of the person.

However, there are many exceptions included in this Section. We will discuss them in the approaching topic.


To sue any person it is necessary to establish that real damage or harm has occurred to the reputation of the person. Only speaking or writing the words, picturing or gesturing does not amount to defamation until the reputation of the person has been harmed.

Harm to reputation is the only negative consequence that can arise from the act of defamation.

It could prove harmful to your professional career as well. For example, if someone pointing out to a shopkeeper says that you should not buy groceries from him as he sells low-grade things at a high rate. In this case, if the statement is found to be untrue then the reputation of the shopkeeper is being harmed as this will lead to the shortage of customers coming to his shop.


For a person to be sued for defamation, it is required that the publication of the words he spoke or wrote must have happened. What does it mean?

It means that damage to the reputation of the person happens when the defamatory words have reached to any third person. Publication means that the third person has read, heard or seen the written, spoken, gestured or pictured defamatory words.

If it has not happened then there is no ground to sue for defamation.

The distinction between English Law and Indian Law

An act of defamation can occur in two forms, libel and slander.

Libel- it is a kind of defamation that is present in some permanent form such as in writing, printed or a picture.

Slander- it is a kind of defamation that is present in an unwritten form such as spoken words, gestures or representation made with hands.

In English law, there is a distinction made between both of the forms under the categories of criminal defamation and civil defamation.

Under criminal law, only libel is an offense and not slander. Whereas in civil law, libel is an offense just like in criminal law but the change here is that slander is also an offense when provided with proof.

In Indian law, both slander and libel are recognized as criminal offenses under Section 499 of IPC. Whereas, in the law of torts libel is actionable per se and slander is actionable. It means in the case of slander there has to be proof of the act of defamation.

D.P. Choudhary v. Kumari Manjulata

In this case, it was published in a newspaper that Manjulata, a 17-year-old girl belonging to a well-known family, eloped with a boy who lived closeby. After this, her reputation got tainted and she suffered a lot of disgrace, as this news was completely false and was published with irresponsibility.

Later on, the Court, in this case, ruled out the Rs. 10000, should be provided to the defendant as it amounted to defamation.

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