ESSENTIALS OF DEFAMATION IN INDIA BY: RACHITA MATHUR

Under Section 499 of Indian penal Code, 1860 defamation is defined as 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 imputation should have the knowledge or a reason to believe that such imputation will ruin the reputation of the person.

Exceptions of defamation can be:

  • If any information which is true and for public good, then that is not covered under the act of defamation. Or any act compulsory to publish that information.
  • If an act in which the public servant is criticized for discharging any of his public functions or and the act of criticizing his conduct and character when it appears to be wrong and not otherwise.
  • If any person expresses his/her views and opinion on the conduct of any other person who discharges any kind of public functions.
  • If any proceedings of the court or the result of any case given by the court are published.
  • If any person publishes any information regarding the merits of the case or in regard to the conduct of any person who was a witness.
  • If any person in good faith expresses his opinion in regards to the performance or character of the author, which the author has submitted to the judgment of the public or viewers, then it does not amount to defamation.
  • If any person passes censure on the conduct of any other person, then it will not amount to defamation, provided that the person applying censure should have the lawful authority or any authority arising out of a valid contract, over the person on whose matters the censure is applied.
  • If any person, who has lawful authority over the other person, accuses him then it will not amount to defamation.
  • If any accusations or imputations are made on another person in order to protect the interests of one self, then it is not defamation.
  • If any caution is made for the good of that person or for the good of the public then it will not amount to defamation.

Explanation of this section:

  • In case, where a person defames another person who has passed away or is already dead, by any means that is written, spoken, by gestures or pictures. then, it will be an act of defamation, this act would have harmed the reputation of the person if he would have been still alive, or in case it harms the reputation of the family or close relatives of the deceased.
  • If an act is intended to cause harm to a company or association or a group of people, then it will amount to defamation.
  • Any person by innuendo is a form of criminal defamation.
  • The reputation of a person is harmed when the act injures the moral or intellectual character of the person or lowers his credit. It also hampers the reputation if the act lowers down the person’s character in the respect of his cast or his calling. The act of defamation which let the others believes that the body of any particular person is in a detestable condition. All of these acts are considered to harm the reputation of the person and comes under the offense of criminal defamation.

Case Laws:

Narayan Singh v. Rajmal

In this case the editor of the newspaper was absent and the defamatory matter was published by the sub-editor. The court ruled out that the editor was not responsible as he was absent with no bad intentions.

M.C. Verghese v. T.J. Ponnan & Anr

In this case the husband wrote a letter to his wife containing defamatory matter. The court held that this was under Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872.

Google India Pvt Ltd. v. Visakha Industries

In this case an article was published with a caption ‘poisoning the system: Hindustan Times’. In this article, the names of many famous politicians were mentioned which had nothing to do with the Visakha Industries. The case ruled out that all of it does not amount to defamation.

 

 

 

 

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