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DEFAMATION

AS A T O R T AN D AS A C R I M E

CONTENTS
Introduction Definitions Essentials of Defamation Libel and Slander Comparison of Defamation as a Tort and as a Crime Consequences of Civil and Criminal Defamation Conclusion

INTRODUCTION
Persons right to reputation. Loss of reputation is a bigger injury than loss of property or pecuniary interests In India Civil defamation has been more litigated than other Torts

DEFINITIONS
Publication of a statement which reflects on a persons reputation and tends to lower him in the estimation of right thinking members of the society generally or tends to make them or shun or avoid them 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. - IPC

ESSENTIALS OF DEFAMATION
Making or publishing of an imputation concerning a person Such imputation should have been made in such a way to communicate by representations. Publish here, means communication of the defamatory statement that might be read or heard by a third party apart from whom it was actually intended for Imputation Accusation which is something more than an expression of suspicion.(Eg., calling a man a drunkard, a woman to be of dubious character, etc) The words alleged to be defamatory must relate to a person or persons whose identity can be established

LIBEL AND SLANDER


A libel is a defamatory statement in some permanent form(writing or printed) Slander: Transient defamation(eg: spoken words, gestures, etc) Libel is a crime as well as a tort. Slander is only a civil wrong. However, this distinction is diluted in case of India, where defamatory statements include gestures, speech, writing, et all

INNUENDO
An innuendo is also penalized Innuendo is an indirect remark that might be considered to be connected to a certain person and which might be taken to be defamatory Sumatibai v. Nandkumar Deshpande, in which a newspaper article about KG kids required to by bowls, but not given to them at the end of schooling. Sumatibai was the only person who knew of the bowls newspaper indirectly remarked that he/she was corrupt. Held it to be defamatory

LIBEL AND SLANDER


Libel provides the wronged with an absolute right, the wrong of slander needs to be substantiated by proof that the wronged person suffered actual damages. In order to find an action for libel, it must be proved that the statement complained is false Slander:it must be proved that the words complained of are false and also prove that the plaintiff suffered damages due to it.

REQUIREMENTS
Any defamatory statement in question is assumed to be malicious, unless proven otherwise. The mere publication of a defamatory statement, it is assumed that the malice is implied The lack of intention is no defense in defamation Any defamatory statement that hurts the profession or calling of a person is actionable. Test of Defamation: Statement is defamatory is decided from the point of view of ordinary, just and reasonable people.

DEFENSES UNDER CIVIL DEFAMATION


Defense of Truth is a complete defence. The law will nor recognize malice of the defendant brings the defense of truth. Motive is irrelavent if this defence is upheld. Legitimate criticism on a matter of public interest is not a tort. Even if there is a loss to the aggrieved plaintiff, it shall fall under the maxim of damnum sine injuria. A comment in order to be a fair comment must be based on facts and cant be misstatements. Burden of proof lies with the defendant

DEFENSES UNDER CIVIL DEFAMATION


Privilege means that a person is of such a standing that whatever defamatory is written or spoken by him, is justified. Absolute privilege is such a privilege where no action lies towards the said action of defamtion although the statement might be completely false. Eg Parliamentarians Qualified Privilege: Plaintiff has to prove that the defamatory statement made towards him/her was made with express malice. Occur in course of moral duty social obligation self defense etc

DEFENSES IN CRIMINAL DEFAMATION


Truth is the only a defense according to the IPC only if it is for a public good. The term public good implies the good of the public and the word public is not limited to one class or community. Hence, any man who, publishes allegedly defamatory statements for warning the public against a certain immoral individual wont be treated as a criminal.

PRIVILEGE AND GOOD FAITH


There is no absolute privilege in the case of Criminal Defamation There are exceptions for such a privilege, but it is subject to proof. Good Faith The burden of proof is always on the defendant who wishes to use this defense IPC only defines what is not good faith. Hence proof of good faith would require that there was no lack of it

CONSEQUENCES
A party aggrieved by Defamation can file a complaint under Sec. 500 of the IPC. Aggrieved party can also choose to go ahead with a Civil Suit on defamation In a criminal trial, the results would be completely penal in nature and there is no scope for compensation. And maximum punishment is two years of simple imprisonment While in Torts, the amount of compensation has seen to be varied. From token to exorbitant. Also considered: Kinds of words/gestures, public standing of plaintiff, etc But a successful suit will only result in compensatory consequences and not penal.

CONCLUSION
While differences exist between Tortious Defamation and Criminal Defamation, they are, essentially the same. Difference is basically between the procedures followed and the consequences Amount of importance given to reputation and honor is huge As such, requirement of codification of civil defamation is required Wherein guidelines on burden of proof, damages, etc should be legislated