In legal terms, defamation is the attack on another’s reputation by a false publication (communication to a third party) that serves to discredit the individual. Its variety is only constrained by human creativity. Although the concept of defamation originated in English law, it predates that by several thousand years. Defamation typically requires that the publishing be untrue and done without the person being allegedly defamed’s permission. Words and images are interpreted in the context of the publication and according to accepted usage. Only causing emotional distress is not defamation; there must also be a loss of reputation. The individual who has been disparaged need not give their name, but they must be identifiable.

A group of people is only considered to have been maligned if all of its members are mentioned in the publication, especially if or if specific members of the class are specially imputed. There are significant differences between the damages that can be recovered in libel and slander. Libel cases seek compensation for all negative effects of defamation, known as general damages if they involve reputational harm and special damages if they involve a particular economic loss. Only special damages are recoverable in a slander case, however certain countries do not allow this. Several statutes make defamation a crime, but for those statutes to be invoked, the defamation must directly harm the public interest.


False accusations from one party against another are referred to as slander. In order to harm the target of the statements, slander is vocally disseminated. Slander, or defamation, is the act of hurting a person’s or organization’s reputation by spreading false information about them to one or more individuals. Slander is a legal term for this act. In civil court, slander can be the topic of a lawsuit, but the subject must establish it. Libel, which involves written rather than oral defamation, is frequently contrasted with slander. 

Your right to free speech is not unrestricted even if everyone has the fundamental right to do so (or at least they should). In truth, most legal systems place restrictions on speech, particularly if you make untrue statements about another person. Any sort of verbal defamation is referred to as slander. When someone disparages another person’s reputation or means of support, this is called defamation. To be regarded as slander, a statement must be presented as fact rather than opinion. It’s necessary to tell a third party the statement. 

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Courtroom proof of slander could be challenging. The complaint is required to provide proof. As mentioned above, harmed parties must be able to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that slanderous comments were made with malice toward a third party and that they were made with malice. Additionally, the slanderer must have been mistaken about what they were saying, according to the complaint’s’ burden of proof. In many cases, doing this is exceedingly challenging.

In  India,  there  is  no  such  distinction  between  libel  and  slander.  Both  libel  and  slander  are 

criminal offence. For better understanding, it can be divided into two categories: 

i. Criminal  

ii. Civil 

Defamation as a crime 

The  IPC under chapter XXI sections  499-502 protects an individual’s / person’s reputation. 

Section 499 of the IPC defines ‘defamation’ as being committed: 

i. Through:  (i)  words  (spoken  or  intended  to  be  read),  (ii)  signs,  or  (iii)  visible 


ii. Which: are a published or spoken imputation concerning any person; 

iii. If the imputation is spoken or published with: (i) the intention of causing harm to 

the  reputation  of  the  person  to  whom  it  pertains, or 

(ii)  knowledge  or  reason  to believe  that  the  imputation  will  harm  the  reputation  of  the  person  to  whom  it pertains will be harmed. 

Four justifications and eleven exceptions can be made to this general concept. If a person is found guilty of defamation in accordance with section 499 of the IPC, the penalty is imprisonment for a maximum of two years, a fine, or a combination of the two are permitted under section 500.   The offence is non-cognizable and bailable, according to Cr PC, which outlines the procedural parts of the law. Typically, those who are accused of the crime would not be regarded seriously. 

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Without a warrant, a person could not be taken into custody, therefore a person who felt wronged could not just file a police report, but would often need to file a complaint with a magistrate.  Defamation is only illegal if it can be proven to be accurate.

Defamation as a tort 

As far as defamation under tort law is concerned, as a general rule, the focus is on libel (i.e., 

written defamation) and not on slander (i.e., spoken defamation). 

In order to establish that a 

statement is libellous, it must be proved that it is (i) false, (ii) written; (iii) defamatory, and 

(iv) published.

An interesting aspect of defamation as a tort is that it is only a wrong if the defamation is of a 

nature which harms the reputation of a person who is alive. In most cases, this translates to 

saying that it is not a tort to defame a deceased person since, as a general rule, the plaintiff 

needs to be able to prove that the defamatory words referred to him. However, this does not 

mean that there can be no cause of action if a dead person is defamed — if, for example, a 

defamatory statement negatively impacts the reputation of a deceased person’s heir, an action 

for defamation would be maintainable. Further, if an action for defamation is instituted, and 

defamation  is  found  to  have  been  committed,  damages  will  be  payable  to  the  plaintiff 

(usually, the person defamed). In addition to this, a person apprehensive of being defamed in 

a publication may seek the grant of an injunction to restrain such publication.


Reputation is one of those priceless possessions that a person accumulates over the course of his entire life, from birth to death, making it impossible for anyone to speak negatively about another person. The decriminalisation of defamation will obstruct the advancement of society and the nation since it is a dangerous and damaging tool that anybody may use and may prove harmful to the entire society.


  • Kashyap, A. (2016). DEFAMATION IN INTERNET AGE: LAW & ISSUES IN INDIA. International Journal for Innovations in Engineering, Management and Technology, 1(1), 17-25.
  • Saxena, D., & Shadwal, P. (2016). Criminal Defamation and its Constitutional Validity: Case Study of Judicial Interpretations. Amity Journal of Media & Communications Studies (AJMCS), 5(3).
  • Shah, N., & Dharap, C. (2020). Analysis of defamation cases in India.
  • Singh, A. K. (2022). A Study on Position of Law of Defamation in India. Bayan College International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 2(2), 1-13.

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Aishwarya Says:

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.


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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories

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