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An Assignment of

Law Of Crimes
On the Topic

Defamation
Prepared under the guidance of Professor Rose Verghese

Submitted by
Ayush Jha
B.A.LL.B (H.)
4th Semester
Class roll no. 09

Table of Contents

Introduction
Section 499
Ingredients
Section 500
Section 501
Section 502

Introduction

An act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held


in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment
status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Such defamation is
couched in 'defamatory language'. A person who is aggrieved by the defamatory
words of a person can seek redressal both in public and private law, i.e., liability of
the offender arises in law of torts as well as in law of crimes.

Defamation has been defined under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 500 of the Code prescribes punishment for the offence of defamation.
Other sections related to the offence of defamation are S. 501 and S. 502.
However, every statement or action made by a person, lessening the repute of
another cannot said to be defamatory if it falls within any of the ten exceptions to s.
499 of the IPC.

Section 499. Defamation.- Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be


read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation
concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe
that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the
cases hereinafter expected, of defame that person.
Explanation 1-It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased
person, if the imputation would harm the reputation of that person if living, and is
intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives.
Explanation 2-It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a
company or an association or collection of persons as such.
Explanation 3-An imputation in the form of an alternative or expressed ironically,
may amount to defamation.
Explanation 4-No imputation is said to harm a person's reputation, unless that
imputation directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or
intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in
respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes
it to be believed that the body of that person is in a loathsome state, or in a state
generally considered as disgraceful.
Illustrations
(a) A says-"Z is an honest man; he never stole B's watch" ; intending to cause it to
be believed that Z did steal B's watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one
of the exceptions.

(b) A is asked who stole B's watch. A points to Z, intending to cause it to be


believed that Z stole B's Watch. This is defamation unless it fall within one of the
exceptions.
(c) A draws a picture of Z running away with B's watch, intending it to be believed
that Z stole B's watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one of the
exceptions.
First Exception-Imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or
published: --It is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any
person, if it be for the public good that the imputation should be made or
published. Whether or not it is for the public good is a question of fact.
Second Exception-Public conduct of Public servants: -- It is not defamation to
express in a good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of a public
servant in the discharge of his public functions, or respecting his character, so far
as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.

Third Exception-Conduct of any person touching any public question: -- It is not


defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting to conduct of
any person touching any public question, and respecting his character, so far as
his character appears in that conduct, and no further.
Illustration
It is not defamation in A to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting
Z's conduct in petitioning Government on a public question, in signing a
requisition for a meeting on a public question, in presiding or attending a such

meeting, in forming or joining any society which invites the public support, in
voting or canvassing for a particular candidate for any situation in the efficient
discharge of the duties of which the public is interested.
Fourth Exception-Publication of reports of proceedings of Courts: -- It is not
defamation to publish substantially true report of the proceedings of a Court of
Justice, or of the result of any such proceedings.
Explanation-A justice of the Peace or other officer holding an inquiry in open
Court preliminary to a trial in a Court of Justice, is a Court within the meaning of
the above section.
Fifth Exception-Merits of case decided in Court or conduct of witnesses and
others concerned: --It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion
whatever respecting the merits of any case, civil or criminal, which has been
decided by a Court of Justice, or respecting the conduct of any person as a party,
witness or agent, in any such case, or respecting the character of such person, as
far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.
Illustrations
(a) A says-"I think Z's evidence on that trial is so contradictory that he must be
stupid or dishonest". A is within this exception if he says this in good faith,
inasmuch as the opinion which he express respects Z's character as it appears in
Z's conduct as a witness, and no further.
(b) But if A says-"I do not believe what Z asserted at that trial because I know him
to be a man without veracity" ; A is not within this exception, inasmuch as the
opinion which he express of Z's character, is an opinion not founded on Z's
conduct as a witness.

Sixth Exception-Merits of public performance: --It is not defamation to express in


good faith any opinion respecting the merits of any performance which its author
has submitted to the judgment of the public, or respecting the character of the
author so far as his character appears in such performance, and no further.
Explanation-A performance may be substituted to the judgment of the public
expressly or by acts on the part of the author which imply such submission to the
judgment of the public.
Illustrations
(a) A person who publishes a book, submits that book to the judgment of the
public.
(b) A person who makes a speech in public, submits that speech to the judgment of
the public.
(c) An actor or singer who appears on a public stage, submits his acting or signing
in the judgment of the public.
(d) A says of a book published by Z-"Z's book is foolish; Z must be a weak man. Z's
book is indecent; Z must be a man of impure mind". A is within the exception, if he
says this in good faith, in as much as the opinion which he express of Z respects Z's
character only so far as it appears in Z's book, and no further.
(e) But if A says-"I am not surprised that Z's book is foolish and indecent, for he is
a weak man and a libertine". A is not within this exception, inasmuch as the
opinion which he expresses of Z's character is an opinion not founded on Z's book.
Seventh Exception-Censure passed in good faith by person having lawful
authority over another:- It is not defamation in a person having over another any

authority, either conferred by law or arising out of a lawful contract made with
that other, to pass in good faith any censure on the conduct of that other in matters
to which such lawful authority relates.
Illustration
A judge censuring in good faith the conduct of a witness, or of an officer to the
Court; a head of a department censuring in good faith those who are under his
orders; a parent censuring in good faith a child in the presence of other children; a
school-master, whose authority is derived from a parent, censuring in good faith a
pupil in the presence of other pupils; a master censuring a servant in good faith
for remissness in service; a banker censuring in good faith the cashier of his bank
for the conduct of such cashier as such cashier-are within the exception.
Eight Exception-Accusation preferred in good faith to authorized person. -- It is
not defamation to prefer in good faith an accusation against any person to any of
those who have lawful authority over that person with respect to the subject-matter
of accusation.
Illustration
If A in good faith accuse Z before a Magistrate; if A in good faith complains of the
conduct of Z, a servant, to Z's master ; if a in good faith complains of the conduct
of Z, and child, to Z's father-A is within this exception.
Ninth Exception-Imputation made in good faith by person for protection of his or
other's interests: - It is not defamation to make an imputation on the character of
another provided that the imputation be made in good faith for the protection of
the interests of the person making it, or of any other person, or for the public good.

Illustrations
(a) A, a shopkeeper, says to B, who manages his business-"Sell nothing to Z unless
he pays you ready money, for I have no opinion of his honesty". A is within the
exception, if he has made this imputation on Z in good faith for the protection of
his own interests.
(b) A, a Magistrate, in making a report of his own superior officer, casts an
imputation on the character of Z. Here, if the imputation is made in good faith, and
for the public good, A is within the exception.
Tenth Exception-Caution intended for good of person to whom conveyed or for
public good: --It is not defamation to convey a caution, in good faith, to one
person against another, provided that such caution be intended for the good of the
person to whom it is conveyed, or of some person in whom that person is
interested, or for the public good.

Ingredients:
1. Making or publishing any imputation concerning any person.
2. Such imputation must have been made by words, either spoken or intended
to be read, or signs, or visible representations.
3. Such imputation was made with the intention of harming or with knowledge
or reason to believe that it will harm the reputation of the person concerning
to whom it is made.

Makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person.- every such person
who is engaged in composing, dictating, writing or in any way contributing to the
making of libel is the maker of the libel. In N. L. Shah v. Patel Maganbhai
Revabhai and another1, an interesting situation arose for decision. There was
agitation of lawyers in Gujarat in connection with appointment and transfer of
Chief Justices of High Courts. An editorial in a newspaper criticized this agitation.
The lawyers were inter alia described as Kajia Dalal i.e. dispute broker, in the
editorial. In a suit for defamation against editor, the Gujarat High Court held that
the editorial did not refer to the complainant personally or to any other individual
but referred to the lawyers as a class and at the most the lawyers of Gujarat. The
words Kajia Dalal was held to be used in relation to the lawyers as a class and is
not referable to a determinate section of lawyers, namely, the lawyers who were
participating in the agitation. Hence no defamation was done by the editor.
In Ashok Kumar Jain and Others v State of Maharashtra 2, it was held that where a
defamatory statement against a person is published in a newspaper, the editor,
printer and publisher who has made declaration and is shown in paper as such is
liable. Where it is alleged that the Chairman of Board of Directors of Company and
its General Manager took part in selling out newspaper, it is indicative of the fact
that they had prior knowledge of defamatory matter in paper which they could
have prevented but they did not, they would be guilty of the offence.
In Shahrukh Khan v. State of Rajasthan and ors.3 under the direction of Mr. Rajiv
Mehra, a Hindi film Ram Jaane was released for public viewing after due
1 1984 Cr. L.J. 1790 (Guj.)
2 1986 Cr. L.J. 1987 (Bom.)
3 RLW 2008 (1) Raj 809

certification by the Central Board of Certification ('the Board', for short). The
Petitioner played the role of the protagonist in the film. In the later part of the film,
the hero is tried for triple murders. In the courtroom scene, the defense lawyer gets
up to defend the hero who is, however, bent upon confessing his crime. He,
therefore, questions the conduct of the lawyer and says:
(This lawyer well knows that I have killed the three persons, yet he tries to save
me. Why? For the sake of money, no? For the sake of money, he sells his morals.
He sells the laws. By selling the laws, you people have turned life into a misery.)
(English translation of the Hindi dialogue)
The respondents filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Shah Rukh Khan (the
Petitioner), Mr. Rajiv Mehra (the director), Mr. Pravesh Mehra (the producer), Mr.
ShriKant Sharma (the co-scriptwriter), Ms. Juhi Chawla (the heroine), and M/s
Vinayak Film Industries (the distributors in Rajasthan), and M/s Unkown
Distributors (distributors for India) alleging defamation and criminal conspiracy,
offences Under Section s 500,501 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.
It was held by the Rajasthan High Court that the law requires that the defamatory
statement, in order to be actionable, be made against a definite and an identifiable
group. The remark made by the petitioner was applicable to the lawyers as a
community. Thus, a group of lawyers could not file a complaint against the
petitioner for offence Under Section s 499 and 500 IPC. Therefore, the complaint
is not maintainable.

Imputation should have been made by words either spoken or intended to be


read by signs or by visible representation.- In India a person can be defamed not

only by writings, but also by spoken words. Here at this point Indian law differs
from English law of defamation. Under English Law only writing, printing,
engraving or some other process only can constitute defamation. In Indian Penal
Code word defamation has been used to denote what is known as libel and slander
in England. The words visible representation will include every possible form of
defamation which ingenuity can devise. Thus a statue, an effigy, chalk marks on
wall, signs or pictures may constitute a libel, in addition to words spoken.

Intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such


imputation will harm- There must be an intention to harm the reputation of the
complainant or the knowledge that the imputation will harm the reputation of such
person. It is not necessary that actual harm should result.
By harm is meant imputation on a mans character made and expressed to
others so as to lower him in their estimation. Anything which lowers him in his
own estimation does not constitute defamation.

Exception 1- the requirement of this exception are:


1. That the impugned statement must be shown to be true.
2. That its publication must be shown to be for public good.
This exception and exception 4 requires that the imputation should be true.
The remaining exceptions require that it should be made in good faith. It is also
necessary that truth when set up as a defence must extend to the entire defamation
and not only to a part of it.

Where the imputation is good but it is not published for public good but only
for a community such a publication cannot held to be good.
In Jawaharlal Darda v. Manoharrao Ganapatrao4, the respondent filed a
complaint alleging that by publishing a news item concerning misappropriation of
government funds in news paper Dainik Lokmath, J.L. Darda along with others
have committed offence of defamation.
The Supreme Court in this case observed that- what the accused had published
was an accurate and true report of the proceedings of the Assembly. Involvement of
the respondent was disclosed by the preliminary inquiry made by the Government.
If the accused bona fide believing the version of the Minister to be true published
the report in good faith it cannot be said that they intended to harm the reputation
of the complainant.
Exception 2- Any person occupying a public position renders himself open to
criticism for his actions while discharging his functions from the position he
occupies. Such a criticism must be made in good faith and it must relate to actions
of public servants.
It was held In re Arundhati Roy5, that a person claiming the benefit of
second exception to section 499 IPC is required to shoe that the opinion expressed
by him was in good faith which related to the conduct of a public servant in
discharge of his public functions or respecting his character appears in that
conduct.

4 AIR 1998 SC 2117


5 2002 Cr. L.J. 1792 (SC)

Exception 3- the conduct of publicists who take part in politics or other matters
concerning the public can be commented in good faith. In construing a document
the courts are not concerned with what the parties intended but with language
actually employed.
Exception 4- this exception requires that the report of the proceedings of a court of
justice should be without malice. It should be fair and accurate report of what took
place before tribunal. This exception does not require good faith. It is not confined
to judgment and orders but also covers pleadings whether relevant or not.
In T. Satish Pai v. Narayan Nayak6, it was held that once FIR is lodged alleging
commission of offences under IPC and public authorities take cognizance of the
same initiating necessary legal action, report published in newspaper of any of the
proceedings relating to crime giving contents of FIR would not amount to
defamation. Publication of such news item will squarely fall within fourth
exception of Section 499, IPC and proceedings against journalist is not sustainable.
Exception 5- the administration of justice is a matter of universal interest to the
whole public. Therefore, a free comment on judgments of the court, the verdict of
the jury, the conduct of the parties and of witnesses is necessary. The criticism
must not intentionally assail the character of others or impute criminality ti them. A
journalist is supposed to discharge his duties fairly and if his comments are fair no
one will be permitted to complain.
Exception 6- this exception deals with literary criticism of public performance
submitted to its judgment. It covers criticism of book published on literature, art,

6 2002 Cri. L.J. 4416 (Karnataka)

painting speeches made in public, acting, singing, etc. The criticism must be fair
and made in good faith.
Exception 7- this exception allows a person under whose authority others have
been placed either by their consent or by law to censure in good faith, those who
are so placed under his authority so far as regard matters to which that authority
relates. A Municipal engineer reported to the Municipality that stock of meal was
taken away by the contractor. It was held that the if the report being made was in
good faith this exception will apply7 . Statements made by a person during police
investigation merely expressing suspicion as to complicity of certain person in
crime will not amount to defamation.
Exception 8- this exception will be attracted if it is proved1. That the person to whom the complaint was made had lawful authority over
the officer complained against
2. That the accusation was made in good faith
It is necessary for the application of this exception that the complaint is bona fide
and not made with the intention to injure anyone. A complaint to a police constable
is not privileged and will not fall under this exception.
Exception 9- where a defamatory statement is made in good faith for the
protection of the interest of the person making it, this exception will come into
operation. Interest of the person has to be real and legitimate, e.g. where a notice
was issued on behalf of a Hindu widow, charging with criminal breach of trust and
the reply of the accused was that the widow was living an immoral life, it was held
that the exception applied.
7 J.N. Mukherjee, AIR 1934 Pat. 548

Exception 10- for attracting this exception it must be proved that the accused
intended in good faith to convey a caution to one person against another, intending
for the good of the person to whom the caution was conveyed or to some person in
whom the person is interested or for public good. The caution is intended to be
given to the person to whom it is intended. The imputation must be made in good
faith.

Section 500. 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.

Section 501. Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory.Whoever prints or engraves any matter, knowing or having good reason to believe
that such matter is defamatory of any person, shall be punished with simple
imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 502. Sale of printed or engraved substance containing


defamatory matter.- Whoever sells or offers for sale any printed or engraved
substance containing defamatory matter, knowing that it contains such matter,
shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two
years, or with fine, or with both.

References:

Indian Penal Code, S.N. Mishra


Law of Crimes, K.D. Gaur
www.indiankanoon.com
www.judis.nic.in