Any defamatory or irrelevant statement published against some person by which
his/her reputation is harmed leads to defamation. A person’s reputation is more
valuable than any other tangible asset. loss caused due to loss of reputation is
far more if someone compares the loss with material wealth i.e.; loss of
reputation is greater than the loss of property. generally, in defamation there
must be existence of publication of false statement referring to the plaintiff
by which the plaintiff’s reputation is harmed. Statement does not include any
wrongful act such as assault, malicious prosecution, unlawful arrest because as
there are compensation made for such things. some of the examples of statement
are word, picture, visual image, gestures, or any method of signifying.
Essentials Of Defamation:
Statement must be false/defamatory:
If a plaintiff wants to file a suit against defendant and prove tort of
defamation then the first essential proved by the plaintiff is that the
statement must be false, irrelevant or defamatory. Suppose there are two persons
A and B. if A says that B is a thief, then A will be held liable for making a
Statement must be injurious to plaintiff’s reputation:
Plaintiff has to prove that the statement was injurious to his/her reputation.
for example- if some statement has been by some person to the writer of a novel
by which his reputation is harmed then he can claim for such things.
Statement must refer to the plaintiff
Plaintiff must prove that the statement made by the defendant was referred to
him. For example – if A wrote a letter carrying of some defamatory statements in
the name and address of B, so it was clear that A was referring to B i.e.; the
Statement must be published:
There must be publication of the statement. if the two essentials are satisfied
but the statement was not published then there will be no liability for tort of
defamation. if A wrote on a paper that B is a thief and kept that paper in his
pocket, so here the statement was defamatory and also was referring to B but the
publication was done so in this case A will not be held liable for defamation as
only the two essentials were only satisfied.
For example- if A writes a
defamatory statement referring to B and C a third party reads that letter, so in
this case A will be held liable for the tort of defamation. as C came to know
about the letter or the letter was read by C so this led to publication of
letter and also all the elements were satisfied. So, if the plaintiff wants to
file a suit against defendant for the tort of defamation, then the plaintiff
must prove all the elements of the defamation i.e.; defamatory statement,
publication of statement and was injurious to plaintiff’s reputation. All the
essentials need to be satisfied for the tort of defamation.
With reference to the case of Chris cairns v. Lalit Modi- in this case Lalit
Modi was sued by New Zealand cricketer Chris cairns, as Lalit Modi made a
defamatory statement against cairns that he was involved in match fixing as a
reason for excluding him from the IPL auction.it was held that Lalit Modi was
held liable for defamation as all the elements of defamation were satisfied in
this case that there was a false and defamatory statement made by Lalit Modi
referring to Chris cairns by which cairns reputation was harmed and as Lalit
Modi tweeted the same which meant it was also published.
Types Of Defamation:
If the false or defamatory statement referring to the plaintiff is
published which is in a recorded form ex-picture, movies, postcards, statues
etc. is said to be a libel defamation. for example – there is a board near the
street in which it was written by A that B is a thief. so, A will be held liable
for libel defamation as it was defamatory statement by which B’s reputation was
harmed and it was also published which was in a recorded form.
If the false/ defamatory statement referring to the plaintiff is
published which was not in a recorded form for example – it may be made by
words, nonverbal communication or by signs.
For example – if A announces that B
is a criminal then A will be held liable for the slander defamation as it was
defamatory statement by which B’s reputation was harmed and it was published in
an unrecorded form which is called as slander defamation.
Defense Of Defamation:
There are some of the defenses available for the tort of defamation in which the
burden of proof lies on the plaintiff that the defendant has defamed him. If
plaintiff proves that defendant has defamed him than only defendant can take
some defense to avail his liability.
Following are the defenses available for defamation.
Truth or justification:
if the defendant is able to prove that the defamatory
statement made by him is true or justified then in that case defendant will not
be held liable because it will act as a good defense against his defamatory
statement. For example:
if A says thief to B and further, he takes a defense of
truth that he said thief to B because there are three cases on B of robbery on
which the order of conviction is passed. So as A took the defense of truth or
justification so he will not be held liable. The defense can be substantially
true (which is considerable) for example if A says that B was jailed for 4 weeks
but instead B was jailed for 3 weeks. So, A will not be held liable as he made a
statement which was substantially true. In case of specific charge there is a
need of establishing the truth.
Fair or bona fide comment:
giving opinion in any facts is called as fair or bona
fide comment because the fact already exists and we are only giving the opinion
on that particular existing facts or can be called as if a comment made on the
existing facts for goodness of public. For example, if A criticizes any facts
and that criticism is honest and for the purpose of public good then he will not
be held liable for the tort of defamation. there will be no defense in absence
of quotation of facts.
An occasion where a person passes a statement with no fear of
defamation which is called as privilege.
if in a situation a person passes any statement with no
fear of defamation even if he is aware that the statement made by him is
malicious or false then he will not be held liable as he is enjoying absolute
- Parliamentary proceeding:
member of parliament and state legislature of the constitution can enjoy
absolute privilege. as we know any member can make a defamatory statement
against another member it can be passed because of absolute privilege and
only at the time of parliamentary proceeding.
- Judicial proceedings:
at the time of court proceedings, if a judge passes any defamatory statement
or a lawyer passes any defamatory statement or a clerk passes defamatory
statement knowingly that the statement is wrong then also, they will not be
liable as they are enjoying absolute privilege.
- Qualified privilege:
if the defendant is making statement honestly and carefully
then it is said to be qualified privilege.
For example: if A gives correct
information about C to B, then A will not be held liable for tort of defamation.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Rakchit Mishra
Authentication No: MA114207801600-22-0522