Each man has a right to have his reputation safeguarded untouched. This privilege of reputation is recognized as a natural individual right of each individual. It is a jus in rem a correct decent against the whole world. A man’s integrity is his wealth, more precious than any other wealth. Reputation for certain individuals is almost as much a result of what many do not learn about them as it is about readily accessible knowledge. The wrong of defamation preserves dignity and defences against the wrong i.e. truth and justice protect the freedom of speech. A defamatory speech is a comment that is intended to subject a person to hate, speculation or mockery or to injure him in his profession, business, trade or to cause him to be ostracised or excluded in society. For sustaining a defamation suit; it is mandatory for the plaintiff to have suffered some damage to his credibility.
Defamation is being done either by means of writing or by means of speech. The term ‘libel’ is used for the former type of utterance and the term ‘slander’ for the latter. Libel is written, and slander is seen as a spoken defamation.
Defamation law strolls a barely recognizable difference between the privilege to the right to speak freely of discourse and the privilege of an individual to maintain a strategic distance from criticism. On one hand, a sensible individual ought to have free discourse to discuss their encounters in an honest way unafraid of a claim in the event that they state something mean, yet evident, about another person. Then again, individuals reserve an option to not have bogus articulations made that will harm their reputation.
Types of Defamation
In India, a person can send a legal defamation notice mainly in two circumstances. Therefore, if the image of an individual or organization is tarnished or undermined by one or more individuals, by:
- Defamation by slander
- Defamation by libel
A libel is a publication of bogus and disparaging proclamation in permanent form having a tendency to harm the reputation of someone else without legitimate support or reason. To support an action for libel the statement complained of must be false, in writing, defamatory and published.
A slander is a bogus and defamatory verbal articulation having a tendency to harm the reputation of another without lawful justification or excuse. The necessities for slander are that the words grumbled of must be bogus, defamatory, published by the defendant and that the special harm has come about because of their utilization. The common law rule that slander is not actionable per se has not been followed in India except in a few decisions. The Indian cases fall under four classes for example where the words ascribe a wrongdoing, where the words griped of are expressions of disgusting maltreatment, where they credit unchasity to a lady and where they will in general lower the character of the offended party in his caste.
Elements of a defamation lawsuit
Defamation changes per state laws, yet there are some acknowledged principles that make laws comparative regardless of where you are or who you are suing. Generally, to win a lawsuit one must show that:
- Someone made a statement;
- The statement was published;
- The statement caused injury to a person’s reputation;
- The statement was false and defamatory;
- The statement did not fall under the privileged category.
*Privilege- Where an individual stands in such a connection to the realities of the case that he is defended in saying or writing what might be hostile or derogatory to anyone else, he is said to have a ‘privilege’.
The legal notice of defamation is regulated basically by the following laws:
- Civil Procedure Code,1908
- Indian Penal Code,1860
Reputation is an essential and fundamental part of an individual’s life and the right to reputation is seen as a fundamental right. It also acts as a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution and is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The freedom of speech and expression provided for in Article 19(1)(a) also restricts defamation. Under civil law defamation is a tort. A party can opt for civil redress by bringing a defamation lawsuit, based on the extent of the compensation claim. When someone does anything that encompasses the concept of defamation under IPC Section 499, then that person will face prosecution under IPC Section 500.
Section 499 of IPC- Anyone, by words spoken or meant to be heard, or through signs or evident symbols, makes or publishes any allegation about any person who wishes to hurt, or who suspects or has cause to suspect that such allegation may damage that person’s credibility, shall, except in the cases hereinafter anticipated, defame that person.
Section 500 of IPC (deals with punishment for defamation) – Anyone who defames another citizen shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a period that may stretch to two years, or with fine, or both.
In India, defamation can be claimed in both civil and criminal procedures. The civil defamation remedy is protected under the Torts Act. In a criminal defamation case, a defamed party may move either to high court or lower courts, and claim damages from the accused in the form of monetary compensation. An individual who is guilty of criminal defamation may also be sent to jail for two years under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC.
A legal notice for defamation consists these essential points ( Section 80 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908):-
- Name, description, and place of residence of the recipient of the notice.
- Name, description, and place of residence of the sender of the notice.
- Details of the cause of action.
- The relief claimed by the sender of the notice.
- The detailed description of the incident which raised the cause of action.
- The specific time frame within which the relief needs to be provided.
This article is written by Vanshika Rana, First year of BBA.LLB at Symbiosis Law School, Noida
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