Defamation is an offence in which some person with the help of oral or written statement and by gesture and signal try to impound someone else the defamatory statement which directly harms the reputation of another person.
Let’s take an example of defamation to suppose there are two friends, kajal and john standing for the panchayat election. kajal says, “John is a thief, I have seen her doing theft in the past, so do not give her vote in the panchayat election”. This statement is untrue and harms the reputation of John, as no one in the public will give the vote to a theif person. This will directly hamper John’s winning in the election.
To prevent this, provisions regarding Defamation are available in Section 499 to Section 502 of the Indian Penal Code. In this article, we will understand them in detail.
What is defamation?
Any person who by spoken or written words, signs or visible gestures creates or publishes any imputation on any person with an intention to harm the reputation of that person. The person making such an 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.
Reputation must be harmed by false allegation.
The defamation will come into matter only where the person must 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. For example, if someone pointing out to a mall says that you should not buy products from this mall 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 mall is being harmed as this will lead to the shortage of customers coming to the mall.
If it has not happened then there is no ground to sue for defamation.
Types of defamation
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.
Case Laws on defamation
In the case of Ram Jethmalani v. Subramanian Swamy court held Dr. Swamy to be liable for defaming Mr. Jethmalani by saying that he received money from a banned organization to protect the then CM of Tamil Nadu in the case of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
In the case of M.J Akbar vs Priya Ramani court held that Priya Ramani is not found guilty of defamation and the MJ Akbar has no remedy available and the allegations put on M.J Akbar are proved by witnesses.
In the case of Arun Jaitely vs Arvind Kejriwal the defamation case was filed by Arun Jaitely on the ground of a statement given by Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet minister then after taking an apology by them the case will be dismissed by the court.