|VOLUME 2|SPECIAL ISSUE|SEPTEMBER 2018|ISSN: 2581-3595|​

DEFAMATION

AUTHORED BY: MS. KAJAL KUKREJA, FINAL YEAR (LL.B), STUDENT AT BHARATI VIDYAPEETH DEEMED UNIVERSITY, NEW LAW COLLEGE, PUNE.

DEFAMATION[1]

ABSTRACT:

The paper is aimed at explaining the various provisions of defamation. The general meaning of the term ‘Defamation’ is to prejudice the reputation of any person in front of any third person. These words can be in any form i.e. libel and slander which means that defamatory words can be in written form i.e. agenda, notices, newspapers, text messages, email etc. or speak by someone. Reputation is an essential part of every human being. Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Information Technology Act, 2000, defamation is a punishable offence. Therefore, defamation laws are made for the welfare of the people.

WHAT IS DEFAMATION?:

It means when a person is having an intention to circulate any type of information about any person to cause harm to his reputation. There are two types of defamation i.e. Slander and Libel. There is a difference between these two i.e., If any statement is made in a written form and which gets published and spread to a large number of people then it called as “libel” however if the statement is spoken by someone then it called as “slander”.

WHAT ARE SOME FORMS OF DEFAMATION?:

The statements of defamation can be of various forms which include poems, novels, songs, paintings, and cartoons. As there are various changes are coming in the modern society & technology. Therefore, such defamatory statements can be said or made online using various communication devices and such statements made online using various communication devices shall amount to defamation. However, the form of spreading the information does not matter, it is against the law.

WHAT DOES THE VICTIM NEED TO PROVE TO ESTABLISH DEFAMATION?:

The defamation laws generally vary from state to state although there are some accepted norms which should be fulfilled to prove the offence of defamation. These are:-

A statement must be made;

A statement must be published and it must be heard or read by the third party;

There must be an injury or harm which is caused to the reputation of a person.

The statement should be false because a true statement will not be considered a defamatory statement.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND DEFAMATION LAW:

As the trend of social media is getting increased and due to that, it is quite easy to make or publish a defamatory statement. It is because of the social media services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp which allow you to spread information and can reach to millions of people. These online posts consisting of a statement defaming the reputation of another person will also be considered as a defamatory statement and the person can be sued for defamation.

DEFAMATION LAWS AND VIOLATION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION:

Under the Indian Constitution, there are various rights which are provided to the citizens. Article 19 i.e., Freedom of Speech and Expression is an inherent right which means every citizen has a right to express his views of expression but the Constitution puts some reasonable restriction on it. Therefore, the defamation laws also put some restrictions to protect the reputation of an individual.

IS DEFAMATION ILLEGAL?:

Yes, defamation done in any of the forms will be regarded as illegal. If you say some words to defame any person and if you are found guilty of the offence of defamation then the civil charges will apply which includes the compensation to the victim. The amount of compensation depends on the circumstances. However there are some special cases under which it can be treated as a felonious matter.

CYBER DEFAMATION:

It is a new concept. Originally the crimes done through the medium of the internet are not different from established crimes. However, the old definition of the term defamation is applicable to the cyber defamation as it involves defamation of a person through a practical medium. The essential ingredient is Mens Rea i.e. the person should have an intention and knowledge that it will result in defamation. It is generally done by publishing any type of defamatory statements with the use of the internet. It includes when any defamatory statement is made through websites or emails will be regarded as cyber defamation. It is does not generally affect only a single person but it affects the whole society as well.

THE OFFENCE CAN BE COMMITTED THROUGH:

Websites

Discussion Forums

Intranet

Social networking sites

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF CATEGORY UNDER WHICH A CASE CAN BE FILED UNDER CYBER DEFAMATION:

Under the first category, the person who has published the defamatory words and under the second category the internet service providers are liable.

ELEMENTS OF CYBER DEFAMATION:

There are some essential elements of a cyber-defamation which includes:

A false statement must be made;

The statement must be with a bad intention;

There must be harm to a third party;

IT CAN BE FURTHER DIVIDED INTO TWO PARTS- CYBER AND DEFAMATION:

a) CYBERSPACE: When two computers are joined together to create a space for providing information.

b) CYBERCRIME: The crimes which are done through the use of any communication device will cover under this. 

STATUTORY PROVISIONS GOVERNING CYBER DEFAMATION IN INDIA:

INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860:

1. SECTION 499 OF IPC:

This section says that if any person said something i.e., spoken or written or by signs makes any statement to cause harm to the concerned person, or having the imputation that will damage the honor of such person.

The person who committed the offence of making unnecessary statements will be punished under the Section 500 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 with a simple imprisonment which is 2 years or fine or both.

Under Section 499 this law extended to the electronic form i.e. “speech” and “documents” covers under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

2. SECTION 469 OF IPC:

Under section 469 it says that any person who commits the offence of forgery which intends that the forged document will harm the honor of the other party will be punished with a term of imprisonment which can be extended to 3 years and liable to fine also.

3. SECTION 503 OF IPC:

Under this section of the IPC, it says that whoever has the intention of doing harm to the reputation of the other party i.e. by using any electronic means of emails or any other device for giving threat to the reputation of that person.

Section 503 says that whoever threatens any other person with any harm to his property, reputation or with an intention to cause harm to that person or force that person to do any act which he is not lawfully restricted to do which is done to avoid the operation of such threats.

4. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000

Under the Information Technology Act, 2000 Section 66A does not specifically deal with the offence of cyber defamation whereas it only provides the punishment.

This section says that any person who gives any defamatory information by the use of a computer source i.e. Any type of information which is offensive or having a bad character which he knows is false and doing for the cause of doing obstruction, injury, injury, hatred words which are done by use of any communication device and which can be spread all over the world. The concerned person will be punishable with imprisonment for a term and which can be extending to three years with fine.

In a renowned India’s first cyber-defamation case of SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. vs. Jogesh Kwatra[2]: Under this case the reputation of a corporate was defamed by an employee of the plaintiff company by sending defamatory, vulgar and abusive emails to all the employers of his company and it is sent to all the subsidiaries of the company all over the world with the intention to defame the company and its Managing Director. Then the Hon’ble Judge of the Delhi High Court passed an ex-prate ad interim injunction. Further, the Delhi High Court stopped the defendant from making these defamatory statements.

CONCLUSION:

Cyberspace is a broad space through which people can share their views. However, people are not using this in a positive way. In the corporate world, the defamatory statements can reach all over the world. However, there are various laws which deal with it. There are various examples under which some people have damaged the reputation of other people through the internet. This is because people think that they have a right to Freedom of speech and expression which is given by the Indian Constitution. To prevent Cybercrimes there should be proper regulations made by the providers of the Internet. Further, there is also Cyber Crime Investigation Cells to deal with these types of crimes in India.  There must be strict policies made for everyone. Irrespective of this people should be aware of their limits that they do not have a right to post any vulgar or bad comments. It can be concluded that no person has a right to say or make any defamatory statements about anyone.                                                    

 

[1] AUTHORED BY: MS. KAJAL KUKREJA, FINAL YEAR (LL.B), STUDENT AT BHARATI VIDYAPEETH DEEMED UNIVERSITY, NEW LAW COLLEGE, PUNE.

[2] CS (OS) No. 1279/2001 (Delhi High Court, 2001) (India).