27 February, 2021

The Case Of The Cross-Country Ordeals

Why are defamation cases filed here, there and everywhere if not to harass? It’s almost impossible for an individual to hold out.

Illustration by Saahil
The Case Of The Cross-Country Ordeals
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Libel, referring to written words, and slander, referring to spoken words, together constitute defamation when published, and which injure or tend to injure the reputation of the victim and expose him or her to hatred, ridicule or contempt. These are the core ingredients of defamation. In India, defamation can give rise to a civil action in tort for damages or prosecution for a crime. This article is concerned only with criminal defamation. Its theme is that the provisions dealing with criminal defamation (Sections 499-502, Indian Penal Code, 1860) have outlived their utility. Besides, there has been widespread abuse of these provisions. Powerful politicians and rich individuals have used them to harass and intimidate individuals and the media.

Under the common law of England, defamation was not a criminal offence unless it had a tendency to cause a breach of peace. However, Tho­mas Babington Mac­ aulay, the father of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), made it a criminal offence in India even if there was no tendency to cause breach of peace—a significant...

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