Defamation is covered as criminal offence under Indian Penal Code and civil wrong under tort. Under Indian Penal Code from Section 499 to section 502 deals with defamation and its punishments.
Defamation is a procedure to ensure that no one harm the reputation of any person or tend to harm reputation of any person in public. It keeps a check on a right to freedom of speech and expression given under article 19 of constitution.
Section 499 of ipc states that any people who publish some matter intentionally to harm the reputation of any person by spoken words, gesture, signs and written words. Person publishing the matter must have a reason to believe that this will destroy the reputation of person.
It’s necessary to prove that there is a real damage to the reputation of person then only he can sue the person who published the matter. Mere spoken words, gesture, signs and written words don’t amount to defamation until the person proves the damage happened to his reputation.
It’s necessary for defamation that third person must read, seen or heard the defamatory words spoken, gestures made, signs and words written.
There are two kinds of defamation-
- Libel – defamation in permanent form like in written words, printed picture, etc.
- Slander- defamation in temporary form like spoken words, signs, gestures, etc
Under English law libel is criminal offence and under civil law libel and slander both are offence.
In India law both libel and slander is offence under civil and criminal law. In case of slander proof is required for initiating proceeding of defamation.
Under limitation act, 1968 the period of limitation prescribed for defamation is 1 year.
The expression ‘imputation concerning any person’ means imposing accusation on some person that he did something wrong. It’s clearly implicating to whom the defamation is made.
Explanation 1. Defamation of the dead.
Explanation 2. Defamation of a company or collection of persons.
Explanation 3. Defamation by innuendo.
Explanation 4. Harming reputation.
Exceptions are given under section 499 of the Indian penal code.
Exception 1. Truth for public good.
Exception 2. Fair criticism of public servant.
Exception 3. Fair comment on public conduct of public other than public servants.
Exception 4. Report of proceeding of courts of justice.
Exception 5. Comment on cases.
Exception 6. Literary criticism
Exception 7. Censure by one in authority
Exception 8. Complaint to authority
Exception 9. Imputation for protection of interest.