If this false statement leads to damage to the reputation of one about whom it is made, there … There can be direct communication to the defamed which would fall within the offence of defamation. It will very much be covered within the scope of privileged communications between husband and wife as laid in section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. Under Section 52 of the IPC, due care and attention are the prerequisites to invoking good faith. The court pointed out the importance of freedom of expression in a democracy but also recognized that it comes with certain restrictions, and this right must be exercised within those restrictions of public order, health, security etc. Recently, a suit for criminal defamation was filed against Javed Akhtar for allegedly making defamatory statements against BJP candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat Pragya Singh Thakur at a press conference. For example- Defaming a person through a representation made in some permanent form like writing, printing etc. B. Imputation of an infectious disease to the plaintiff which has the effect of preventing others from associating with the plaintiff. It is not essential to prove the same beyond reasonable doubt and the mere probability that he did not commit the offence is sufficient. The former is an attack on the judge in his personal capacity, while the other leads to a public wrong. The defamatory statement must be published. So the cause of action is of the present members of the family, who are the plaintiffs.”. Libel is always actionable i.e. However, it must be ensured that the same is not made merely to malign the public servant and wrongly exercising freedom of speech and expression under Article 19. House of Lords upheld the decision that the same is defamation, even if there was no knowledge or intention on the part of the accused. Seventh Exception: Censure by One in Authority. For example, if a newspaper publishes that a man is an alcoholic or that he is in an extramarital affair, can rarely prove to be for the public good. In cases other than this, the same complaint would be held void and illegal. The statement mentioned that a particular person carrying business of Agarbathis to Ceylon has been arrested for the offense of smuggling. In the landmark case of Chaman Lal v State of Punjab, the Supreme Court held that to prove good faith under exception 8 & 9, certain questions can  be looked at: Under this exception, a person is required to establish that the imputations were a result of ‘good faith’  and was meant for ‘public good’. This article is written by Ayesha Zaidi, a third-year student currently pursuing B.A.LL.B (Hons) from Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. The petitioners argued for their right to freedom of expressions and proceedings against them were stayed pending the result of the constitutional challenge proceedings. In 1956, the Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1956 (Act 24 of 1956) adopted the principle established in Wason v. Walter applying it “only to the publication in a newspaper of a report of the proceedings of either House of Parliament. This news item was negligently published by the newspaper and caused a lot of ridicule at the girl. It states that protection needs to be provided to communications between parties that are acting in good faith, in due course of business. In the case of Mahendra Ram v. Harnandan prasad the defendant was held liable for sending a defamatory letter to plaintiff written in Urdu knowing that the plaintiff did not knew Urdu and the letter will very likely be read over by another person. Defamation is defined in section 499 of Indian Penal Code 1860 and section 500 provides that a person committing an offense under this section is liable with simple imprisonment for a term of 2 years or fine or with both. Now due to this B, a resident of xyz has suffered a huge loss. But if he publishes the same in a newspaper, the statement shall not be able to take the benefit of this exception. In the case of. Second Exception: Fair Criticism of Public Servants, It is important to note that this exception cannot be taken by the accused if the imputation which is alleged to be defamatory is made in good faith. There are other defences available with respect to this offence. Why is it required? Justice Fitzgerald said that citizens can show the error that was committed on the part of the judges as long as the discussion is fair and made without malice. Cancel. Hence, as of today, criminal defamation is constitutionally valid under Section 499 and 500 of IPC. Hence, she filed a suit for defamation and was entitled to damages. For this secondary instance plaintiff must prove the secondary meaning i.e. For example, if a person makes a statement that all doctors are thieves, a doctor cannot bring forth a claim unless he can prove that it is intended to defame him individually. So the cause of action is of the present members of the family, who are the plaintiffs.”, Explanation 2: Defamation of a Company or a Collection of Persons, of the Indian Penal Code defines ‘person’ as “, any Company or Association or body of persons, whether incorporated or not.”. Under this exception, even if good faith has to be established, the imputation must be made for the protection of interest of the person making it. Making a fair comment on matters public interest is a valid defense to an action for defamation. Under criminal law in the UK, only libel is a crime and under the law of torts, slander will be actionable only if: Under the law followed in India, however, unlike English Law does not differentiate between libel and slander, and hence, both are included in Section 499 and constitute the offence of defamation. This exception does not protect mere assertions by a person, but his opinions. The statement made must be defamatory in nature, It is necessary that the statement that is made by the accused must be of a defamatory nature. Publication of a defamatory statement leads to not only the publisher but also the maker being held liable under this section. In the case of Radheyshyam Tiwari v. Eknath court held the defendants for publishing defamatory matter against the defendants. However, it is also important to note, that such right to freedom of speech and expression doesn’t come without its restrictions. 4. What Is Defamation Between Spouses? Under Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872, privileged communications between husband and wife and these communications fall outside the purview of section 499, unless this communication is between matrimonial suits or suits which deal with offences against either married party. The definition in this section is subject to four explanations and ten exceptions which shall be discussed further. The law considers marriage a contract between two people. If this false statement leads to damage to the reputation of one about whom it is made, there shall be legal consequences against the person making such false statements. For example, in the famous case of American actress Katie Holmes, a magazine published that she was a drug addict. Example A makes a statement in his office that his colleague is suffering from AIDS. © Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved. Princess Irina of Russia, the wife of prince Youssoupoff , claimed damages for libel in a feature film entitles “Rasputin the mad monk”, alleging that the MGM , had published pictures and words in the film which were understood to mean that she there in called “Princess Natasha” had been raped and/or seduced by Rasputin. Such a report, as between the publisher and the person defamed, is treated as a qualified privilege”. Under Indian law, liability is not imposed for defaming the dead. This is because, next to his life, what a reasonable and prudent man cares most about, is his reputation. Defamatory case can be filed for the grounds other than 498A allegations made by your wife. These special occasions when the law recognizes that the right of free speech outweighs the plaintiffs right to defamation and a defamatory statement made on such occasion is not actionable. It grants immunity from civil and criminal action to such a publication if it is without malice and for the public good and if the report is substantially true.”. , that if a statement attacks the judge, it may be libel if he chooses to proceed against the person making the statement. Hence, as per Section 499, there are certain elements of the offence of defamation. should not be based upon untrue facts. held that even if an offence cannot be made out against the dead but if the statement leads to hurting the feelings of the family and relatives of the deceased, the same is actionable in a court of law. If it appears that no prior reasonable or proper enquiry is conducted by the accused, he cannot avail the benefit of this defence. Generally, the person who first makes a defamatory statement is not liable if the statement is republished by another person even though he expressly states that he is reproducing what he has heard from some source. It also extends to counsels, witnesses, and parties to a suit. After analyzing all the key aspects of defamation as laid in section 499 IPC, we have found that the essence of defamation lies in the injury to the reputation of a person. of the Indian constitution gives immunity to parliamentarians to speak anything during the course of business of parliament and no action would lie against them. resulting from a statement which is false, A man’s reputation is treated as his property and if any person poses damage to property he is liable under the law, similarly, a person injuring the reputation of a person is also liable under the law. Hence, while it may be okay to say hurtful or mean things about someone as long as they may be true, on the other hand, it is not justified when the same is done in a way that leads to damage to the reputation of the person about whom the statement is made. Such a report, as between the publisher and the person defamed, is treated as a qualified privileg. Did he conduct any due diligence before making the alleged imputation? Legal notices must be sent by the complainant which must include the factual background of the alleged offence, how such a statement is not true in nature, the harm to the reputation as well as the damages that are being sought. liable for publishing a statement without any intention to defame the defendants. A husband and wife have 17 year old daughter. The person taking the benefit of this defence must ensure that the statement he made is fair and honest and he has the onus to prove that the said imputation was true or that there existed circumstances which made him believe that the information was true. But if a person wrote that all AIIMS doctors are thieves, then a doctor from that hospital can maintain a claim for damages. This will ensure that only the cases of serious nature are brought to court and the burden on the judiciary is reduced by eliminating groundless accusations. The following persons shall be held liable when a defamatory statement is published in a newspaper, book, magazine, pamphlet etc. If we look at the two carefully, we can see that on one hand, a reasonably prudent person has the fundamental right to speak his mind and narrate his experiences in a truthful manner without the fear of being held liable by the other party. This was a false news item as she had gone to attend night classes for her B.A. The very first essential of the offense of defamation is that the statement must be defamatory i.e. Essentially, the gist of the offence under Section 499 is a publication, which refers to making the defamatory material known to someone other than to whom it is addressed and therefore, the mere making of imputation is not enough to constitute an offence under Section 500. The initial basis should be breach of contract. The statement or imputation must be made in good faith. Deriving from the legal fiction that a husband and wife are one person, it extends the defendant's protection against self-incriminationto his wife also. If a publisher published a faithful and accurate report containing defamatory statements, it amounted to breach of privilege or contempt of legislature in India. Under Section 499, the imputation could be by: There can be various forms of publication of the defamatory material. Whether Accurate and True Report of Assembly Proceedings Published in Newspapers Would Amount to Defamation, a faithful and accurate newspaper report of debates in the Legislature, however injurious to the character of individuals, is not treated as a breach of privilege or contempt by the Legislature. innuendo which makes the statement defamatory. The Supreme Court in the case of. knew Urdu and the letter will very likely be read over by another person. It is thus essential that accurate reports of these proceedings are made and excluded from the domain of the offence of defamation. The letter was a private note to your husband that you did not share with anyone else, he did. There is an imputation of a criminal offence to the plaintiff filing the suit. Under the ninth exception, the presence of the same is required and it is not enough on the part of the accused that he believed the statement to be true. It will very much be covered within the scope of privileged communications between husband and wife as laid in section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. , held that authorization is required on the part of the secretary by the governor to file a complaint alleging defamation. It grants immunity from civil and criminal action to such a publication if it is without malice and for the public good and if the report is substantially true.” In Matters Personally Defaming the Governor, His Personal Authorisation is a must. The criticisms must be pertinent to the standard of the performance and not as such whether the person has the ability to do the same or not. If the statement made is true, no such case shall be made against the person making the statement. This has to be done keeping in mind the facts and circumstances of the case which includes, the alleged malice, due care and attention where defamation is alleged. Hence, she filed a suit for defamation and was entitled to damages. In the eyes of law, both husband and wife are one person and the communication of a defamatory matter from the husband to the wife or vice versa is no publication and will not come within the purview of section 499. was not applicable in India which was inconsistent and conflicting until the year 1956. Defamation is considered to be a civil wrong or tort. Under Criminal law, only libel has been recognized as an offense. Find ways to say ‘I love you’ without saying the actual words. Distinction Between Libel of Court and Contempt of Court, The Supreme Court held in the landmark case of, Brahma Prakash Sharma and Ors. Hence, if a defamatory letter is sent directly to the person defamed or if the statements are made over a telephonic conversation which wasn’t heard by others, there will be no offence under Section 499 as there is no publication of it. There are different elements for it to constitute the tort of defamation which have to be proved by the plaintiff or the aggrieved party: It is not essential for defamation to be published in such a way that most of the people understand who was referred to. Login Alert. Then it will not be a comment and will amount to an assertion of fact. Defamation as the meaning of the word suggests is an injury to the reputation of a person resulting from a statement which is false. Further, it is important to note that the ‘truth’ must extend to the entire statement. This is an exhaustive article which deals with the Law of Defamation as existent under Indian Law and a thorough analysis of its provisions and scope and extent of the law in general. There is a reasonable restriction on the right to freely express their opinions. If a person who is aware that a defamatory statement is false and still repeats or communicates it further, then he can also be held liable for defamation. Further the documentary evidence will be read with oral evidence of witnesses produced by the prosecution. Under Section 499, the word “makes” does not refer only to the creator who made the imputation but is also applicable to all those who subsequently repeats, writes or copies the imputation, even though he is not the author. Subsequently, she filed a defamation suit as it was contrary to her reputation and was also a false claim. Defamation refers to a wide term encompassing a legal claim which involves an injury to one’s reputation which is a result of a false statement of fact. , also held that the typist of the lawyer who typed such defamatory notice shall also not be liable. The statement needs to be made in good faith. The very first essential of the offense of defamation is that the statement must be defamatory i.e. In 1956, the Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1956 (Act 24 of 1956) adopted the principle established in, applying it “only to the publication in a newspaper of a report of the proceedings of either House of Parliament. The provisions of Section 499 contain various explanations and exceptions which need to be read along with the substantive part of the section so as to ensure a coherent understanding with respect to the offence of defamation and to also see if the accused can take certain defences and take the benefit of the exceptions to see if the case falls within them. It reads, “Punishment for defamation.—Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”. Although there are various reforms which need to be introduced, there has been much debate revolving on the need to decriminalize defamation but since the Supreme Court has adjudged on the constitutionality of criminal defamation, we shall be focusing on other reforms. the plaintiff. Under Section 499, it is not essential that proof of actual harm is shown for it to constitute the offence of defamation. Ponnen v. M.C. 4 Answers. The words ‘good faith’ is defined in, of Indian Penal Code which states that “ nothing is done or believed to be in good faith is it is done or believed without due care and attention”, Third Exception: Fair Comment on Public Conduct of Public Men Other Than Public Servants, Fourth Exception: Report of Proceedings of Courts of Justice. Ninth Exception: Imputation for Protection of Interests, This exception, like the first exception, deals with the public good. But if A tells B that C is a thief, then A publishes the imputation. Under Indian law, husband and wife constitute one person and therefore any communication between them does not amount to publication and will not fall within the definition of defamation as provided for in Section 499. However, if the publication of such a statement leads to obstruction in the administration of justice or interferes with due course of justice, then the same shall be summarily punished as contempt of court. 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