In India, defamation is a civil and criminal offence. The law of torts punishes defamation as a civil offence, with the accused party being awarded damages as punishment. In terms of criminal law, defamation is governed by the Indian Penal Code, 1860, also known as the IPC, which imposes jail time requirements on the accused. Understanding what defamation is essential before continuing.
Defamation is, to put it simply, saying or writing something negative about someone in order to damage their reputation. It may be expressed orally or in writing. Libel and slander are the two categories of defamation recognized by law. Slander is when the accused person speaks falsehoods, while libel is when they are written or published. Notably, the defamatory statement ought to address a third party in both situations.
ELEMENTS OF DEFAMATION
Below are the fundamental components of defamation:
- It is necessary for defamatory content to exist. Such content must cause hatred, disdain, or mockery towards another person in order to harm that person’s reputation.
- A defamatory statement of this kind ought to identify the claimant. The content needs to specifically target one person or a very narrow area.
- The defamatory statement must be published, either orally or in writing.
FILING OF CIVIL SUIT AGAINST DEFAMATION
A person can bring a criminal case against someone who has damaged their reputation, or they can file a civil lawsuit. Section 19 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC) permits the filing of a civil suit for any civil wrong committed against an individual. It does not, however, specifically mention defamation; nevertheless, as stated by the tort law, defamation is a civil wrong that occurs when someone’s private rights are violated. It is common knowledge that India does not have a codified tort law, and as a result, there is no set process for bringing a civil suit for damages.
The compensation is decided by the judge based mostly on precedents with comparable facts and circumstances, but also on the principles of equity, justice, and good conscience. Therefore, the following is the process for initiating a civil lawsuit:
- Order 7 of the CPC allows for the filing of civil suits, which means that a defamation suit may be brought under this provision.
- The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Section 200, may also be used to file the complaint.
- The plaintiff and the defendant are the parties to a civil case.
- Cases pertaining to civil law must be filed in civil courts.
The following is the process that is followed in civil suits:
- A written complaint, also known as a plaint, is submitted to the court with the plaintiff’s declaration that all the information is true, the court’s name, the nature of the case, and the names and addresses of the parties involved.
- Depending on the circumstances of each case, a procedure fee of Rs. 25 and a necessary court fee of Rs. 10 must be paid.
- The hearing is the next stage. The court determines whether or not there is a substantial matter in the plaint on the first day of the hearing. A formal notice is sent to the defendants if it does.
- The next step is to submit written statements, which are done as soon as the parties receive notice of the upcoming appearance. It must include the defenses made in response to the allegations and the defendants’ own confirmation.
- The court issues a certified copy of the final order as well as the order following the final hearing.
- If the parties to the lawsuit disagree with the ruling, they may pursue the following alternatives: Appeal, Reference or Review.
In summary, content publishers, filmmakers, and other media platforms, along with individual content publishers, need to be aware of this in order to avoid liability under the aforementioned criminal defamation statute. Several newspapers, films, and television shows have been banned in India because of their offensive content. Considering the foregoing, it is always advised that parties proceed with caution and perform a legal evaluation of their content in order to detect any potential defamation concerns and address them prior to publication.
Our firm, Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Associates and Advocates, specializes in providing Legal Assistance in cases relating to defamation matters.