The reputation of the person plays a very important role in reflecting his character. People do not prefer engaging with someone with a bad reputation. Defamation is both, a tort i.e., a civil as well as a criminal offense. Defamation is when a person’s reputation is tarnished by another person. This does not sound as serious as it is considered to be since we tend to name people either good or bad all the time based on our own experiences which may or may not be true but if it turns out to harm their reputation it will be known as defamation.
Injury only to feelings is not defamation, there must also be loss of reputation. Mere opinion about someone, true or false will not amount to defamation.
KINDS OF DEFAMATIONS
There are two kinds of defamations, Slander and Libel. Slander is spoken defamation and libel is written defamation.
When someone publishes something on social media platforms, newspapers, letters, etc. anything that harms someone else’s reputation would amount to libel. Whereas if someone communicates any defamatory statements verbally by spoken words, signs, gestures, etc. to another it would amount to slander.
ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF DEFAMATION
- Publication of the statement
It is very important that the defamatory statement should be published. Publication does not just mean publication in any newspaper or media but it must be communicated to any person other than the person he wants to defame. If a person passes defamatory statements only to the person he wants to defame, it will not amount to defamation.
- The statement must be false
If the defamatory statement is true then it will not amount to defamation. For example: If ‘A’, in an interview calls ‘B’ a thief and if B is actually a thief. This will not amount to defamation.
- The statement must refer to the plaintiff
The defamatory statement must refer to the plaintiff (one who files the complaint) and he must prove that such statement was referred to him.
- The statement must be defamatory
The statement that is made must be a defamatory statement and should be known to any other party other than the person who is defamed.
- The stamen must cause serious harm
The defamatory statement must cause harm to the reputation of the plaintiff. This also includes financial loss or harm to the financial growth of the person. For example, if ‘A’ enters into a contract with ‘B’, ‘C’ publishes a false defamatory statement against ‘A’, and because of the false statement, ‘B’ cancels the said contract. This would amount to financial loss to ‘A’.
CIVIL AND CRIMINAL DEFAMATION
There does not arise much difference between civil and criminal offenses when it comes to defaming someone’s reputation. The difference arises when the suit is filed and punishment is rendered.
Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 talks about defamation. Under the Indian penal code, the person who is charged with the offense of defamation will be punished with two years’ imprisonment or fine, or both. The punishment is mentioned under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
Under civil cases for defamation, the remedy is provided under the law of torts. The accused person/ plaintiff can seek monetary compensation as damages which will be decided by the courts considering the severity of the offense.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE OFFENSE OF DEFAMATION
Some of the defenses to the offense of defamation are as under:
- Truth for the public good
If the statement made by the accused person is true and for the public good, he will not be charged for the offense of defamation provided he proves the same.
- Public conduct of public servants
If a person makes a comment regarding the public servant in discharge of his public functions and if it is made in good faith and the statement only relates to his conduct then such statement does not fall under the category of defamatory statements.
- Publication of reports of proceedings of courts
If a person publishes any material including the court proceedings it will not amount to defamation.
- Accusations made in good faith
If a person makes accusations regarding someone to the authorized person it will not amount to defamation. For example: If a teacher in good faith complaints regarding a student to his/her parents it would not amount to defamation.
- Imputations made in good faith for protecting one’s own interest
If a person makes a statement in good faith in order to protect his own interest, it will not amount to defamation. For example: If ‘A’ asks his assistant not to provide goods to ‘B’ because ‘A’ does not trust ‘B’ this will not amount to defamation since it is made in good faith by ‘A’ to protect his own interest.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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