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July 1, 2024

Daily Legal Current – 1 July 2024 : Defamation Case against CM

Why in News? West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose has recently filed a defamation case against Chief Minister Mamata Bannerji.

Defamation law in India protects individuals and their reputations from false and damaging statements.

  • Defamation occurs when a statement (written, spoken, or visual) about someone is communicated to a third party, harms their reputation, and is demonstrably false.

Constitutional Provision:

  • Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution: This guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. However, this right is not absolute. It can be reasonably restricted to protect other fundamental rights, including the right to reputation.

Defamation in India can be both a civil wrong and a criminal offence.

Civil Defamation:

  • Civil defamation is the act of making a false statement about someone that damages their reputation.
  • It allows the affected party to sue the person who made the false statement for damages in a civil court.
  • The objective of civil defamation is to compensate the victim for any harm caused to their reputation.


Criminal Defamation:

  • Criminal defamation is a criminal offence wherein a person intentionally makes a false statement about someone else with the intent to harm their reputation.
  • This false statement must be published or communicated to a third party. Criminal defamation is considered a criminal offence under Section 499 of the IPC.
  • The punishment for criminal defamation can include two years imprisonment and/or a fine as prescribed under Section 500 of the IPC.

Defamation Law Framework:

Indian Penal Code (IPC):

Section 499: Defines defamation as making or publishing any imputation concerning a person intending to harm their reputation.

Punishment: Section 500 of the IPC prescribes punishment for defamation, including imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both.

Exceptions under Section 499: These exceptions protect certain types of statements, even if they could be seen as defamatory. Key exceptions include:

Truth: If the statement is true and is made for public good, it’s generally not considered defamation.

Fair Comment: Comments on a person’s conduct in the public discharge of their duties or regarding public interest matters are protected, as long as the comment is fair and not malicious.

Landmark Case:

Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India (2015): This case is a significant development in defamation law. It struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which criminalized online speech deemed “offensive.” This judgment highlighted the importance of free speech in a democracy.


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