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Defamation

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 false/defamatory statement.

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 plaintiff.

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:

Libel:
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.

Slander:
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.

Privilege:
An occasion where a person passes a statement with no fear of defamation which is called as privilege.

Absolute 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 privilege.
  • 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
    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: MA114207801600-22-0522

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