In India, Defamation may be defined as the writing, publication, and speaking of a false statement which causes injury to reputation and good name for private interest.
Remedy for Defamation
The remedy for a civil defamation is covered under Law of Torts. In civil defamation, a victim can move high court or subordinate courts for seeking damages in the form of monetary compensation from accused. Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code provides an opportunity to the victim to file a criminal case for defamation against the accused.
Elements of Defamation
Defamation statement must be in a spoken or written or published or visible manner and must be false and injured directly or indirectly to the reputation of an individual or his family members or caste and lowers the moral of the victim and statement is unprivileged statements.
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.
By printing or engraving something you know is defamatory to a person's reputation, you can be punished with jail term up to 2 years and/or with fine . Generally, printers of newspapers are prosecuted under this provision.
A person will not be punished if the defamatory statement has been covered under EXCEPTIONS
Exceptions to Defamation
- Any truth statement made in public interest
- Saying or publishing the truth which is for the public good is an exception under this provision. The Court will cross check the facts to decide if the statements you made was actually for the public good.
- It would not be considered defamation if any person has expressed their opinion about any public servant in good faith. The opinion should be honest and without misrepresenting the facts.
- Publication of any proceedings of courts of justice including any trial of court and judgment.
What can lead to Defamatory Statements
- Letters to the editor of local newspapers
- Public comments on media (i.e., newspaper or magazine) websites
- Blog posts
- Comments to blog posts, and
- Internet chat rooms or list servers.
Example of Defamation
During a casual conversation with a reporter, a police officer states that a suspect in a current investigation is guilty. While there are privileges that protect government officials from defamation liability for official statements and documents, this does not apply to casual or unapproved statements.