Defamation: Types and Legality

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IS DEFAMATION TORT OR CRIME?

Defamation is a process of lowering the reputation of any person. It can be done either in oral or in writing in the form. When it is done in written form then it is called libel and when it is done oral form then it is termed as slander. The defamation is basically publication of false statements against the claimant without his consent with the intention to lower his reputation. It is considered as an offense because it causes damages to the claimant in the form of lowering social or political reputation. Which results in financial and economical loss to the claimant.

The basic elements of defamation are-

-The statement should be published.

- The statement should be false.

-The statement should refer to the claimant.

Categories of defamation in India-

  1. Criminal defamation
  2. Civil defamation

 

a)Criminal defamation is dealt with under section 499- 500 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) Any person who is charged for defamation under criminal law should be charged for punishment along with damages. The punishment for defamation under criminal law is imprisonment for 2 years or more with or without fine

According to IPC crime defamation will take place when any person publishes any statement with the intention to lower the reputation of the claimant and the statement published is false. The statement should refer to the claimant only during this situation the plaintiff can institute a case of defamation against the defendant.

R Naik Vs Union of India[1]

In this case section, 499 and 500 of IPC were challenged by the plaintiff for criminal defamation. The validity of section 499 and 500 became academic in this case.

 

b) Civil defamation is dealt under tort law as a general rule it only focuses on libel that is the written defamation statement and does not focus on slander that is the oral defamation statement. In order to prove that the statement libelous. The claimant has to prove that-

-The statements are false.

-The statements are written.

-The statements are defamatory.

-The statements are published.

Ram Jethlalmana vs Subramyam Swami[2]

In this case, the court held that the statement made by the defendant was irrelevant. The aim was to destroy the image of the person. The defendant made the statement with the intention to lose the reputation by linking his name with the corrupt company. The statement ruins the social and political republican of the plaintiff. The plaintiff was awarded 5 Lakhs by the defendant.

 

Conclusions

From the above two cases, we can say in India defamation is both tort and crime. In the case of tort civil laws are applied. Where punishment is not given only damages are given. And in the case of Crime criminal laws are applied and along with damages, punishment is also given. In criminal law, defamation is considered as a bailable offense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]R.Naik Vs Union of India 1994 AIR1558

[2]Ram Jethmalani Vs Subramyam Swami AIR 2006,Delhi 300,126 DLT 535

 

 

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