Defamation laws in India

  • Offences

As the definition of the word says, defamation is a hurt to a person’s reputation caused by a false statement. A man’s reputation is recognised as his property, and anyone who causes property damage is liable under the law; similarly, anyone who harms a person’s reputation is equally liable under the law. Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 defines defamation, and section 500 makes a person who violates this section liable to simple imprisonment for a term of two years, a fine, or both.

  • Definition and section
  • Essentials
  • A defamatory statement must be made.

The first requirement of a defamation crime is that the utterance be defamatory, meaning that it tends to harm the plaintiff’s reputation. The standard for determining whether or not a statement is defamatory is based on how right-thinking people of society are likely to react to it. Furthermore, a person cannot claim that the comment was not meant to be defamatory even if it aroused hostility, disdain, or dislike.

  • The plaintiff must be mentioned in the statement.

It will be immaterial that the defendant did not intend to defame the plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit because the plaintiff must prove that the statement to which he Complains related to him. The defendant shall be held accountable if the person to whom the statement was published may reasonably infer that the statement addressed to him.

  • The declaration must be made public.

The publication of a defamatory remark to someone other than the person who has been defamed is a crucial part of making someone accountable, and without it, no case for defamation will be possible. However, if a third party reads a letter intended for the plaintiff incorrectly, the defendant is likely to be held accountable. However, there will be a legal publication if the defamatory letter written to the plaintiff is likely to be read by others.

  • Types

Slander is defined as the temporary dissemination of a defamatory statement. Using words or gestures to defame someone is one example.

Libel is a representation that is formed in a permanent manner.

Under Indian law, there is no distinction between libel and slander, and both are considered criminal offences under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code.

  • Punishment with sections

Section 500 provides for punishment for the act of defamation. The punishment of a maximum of two years in jail or fine or both is provided under this Section.

  • Case briefs
  • T.V., Ramasubha Iyer v. A.M.A Mohindeen[1]

The defendants were declared guilty in the case of T.V., Ramasubha Iyer v. A.M.A Mohindeen Court for posting a statement without intending to slander the defendants. According to the announcement, a specific person who was transporting Agarbathis to Ceylon had been apprehended for smuggling. The plaintiff was also a participant in a similar business, and his reputation was seriously harmed as a result of this comment.

  • Mahendra Ram v. Harnandan Prasad[2]

In Mahendra Ram v. Harnandan Prasad, the defendant was found liable for sending a defamatory letter to the plaintiff in Urdu, knowing that the plaintiff did not know Urdu and that the message would most likely be read by another person.


[1] T.V., Ramasubha Iyer v. A.M.A Mohindeen

[2] Mahendra Ram v. Harnandan Prasad

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