The Delhi High Court has framed Criminal defamation charges against journalist in a case filed by ex-Union minister after she had levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Defamation is the act of saying false things in order to make people have a bad opinion of someone or something.Defamation can both be a civil wrong and a criminal offence in India.The difference between the two lies in the objects they seek to achieve.
Section 499 of the IPC defines what amounts to criminal defamation. It states that defamation could be through words – spoken or intended to be read,through signs and also through visible representations.These can either be published or spoken about a person with the intention of damaging the reputation of that person or with the knowledge or reason to believe that the allegation will harm his reputation.
Under the criminal suit,the complainant should be able to prove the accused intended to defame him.However,in the absence of intention it must be established that the alleged offender had knowledge that the publication was likely to defame the person. Further, criminal defamation is a compoundable offence and parties can seek a closure of the case by reaching a compromise.
The Supreme Court has upheld the validity of Section 499 of IPC in various cases.The reasons given by SC are as follows.(a)One is bound to tolerate criticism,dissent and discordance but not expected to tolerate defamatory attack (b)Dissent is required,but it does not grant an unfettered right to damage a reputation.Like other rights,right to freedom of speech and expression is not absolute.It is subject to imposition of reasonable restrictions and (c)The court said that the reputation of a person is an integral part of the right to life granted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.Thus reputation of one cannot be allowed to be crucified at the altar of the other’s right of free speech.