With great power comes great responsibility
a popular phrase from
the Spiderman storylines aptly reflects the dilemma of technological use and
its probable misuse.
Societal preferences regarding activities taking place in their everyday lives
have evolved as a result of the internet's accessibility. The manifesto, or the
capabilities afforded by the internet, have made social interest more accessible
than it has ever been.
However, the widespread demand for social media networking sites has resulted in
an increase in the amount of difficulty created by the misuse of electronic
communication. The removal of barriers to liberty to interact has given
unrestricted potentiality, predominantly on social networking sites, to people
who generally post ambiguous comments or information about other people that
harms that person's reputation and goodwill; this act can be classified as trolling
, which leads to cyber defamation.
Bloggers and Internet users may now publish false information about a person or
business more easily and profitably than ever before in today's social media
era. Though some internet information is censored for pornographic or legal
concerns including other unsuitable aspects, the majority of information remains
unregulated for offensive information.
The risk of 'Cyber Defamation' has grown as a result of the emergence of
so-called trends of sharing or uploading information or photographs on several
social networking sites and commenting on them. Therefore, consumers, sharers,
and probable victims must consequently get a deeper understanding of the world
of online defamation and defamation laws.
The Difference Between Defamation & Cyber Defamation:
Defamation is a comprehensive term that refers to a false statement conferred as
a fact that causes harm or damage to the character of the person being defamed.
It entails undermining a person's prominence in the eyes of a third party.
It is the unjust and purposeful publication of information about a person,
whether in written or oral form, to harm that person's reputation in society.
Defamation is categorized into two kinds:
derogatory statement that is published in writing.
recognized as a defamatory statement made orally (spoken).
However, Defamation does not necessarily follow a fundamental defamatory
assertion. The making of such comments is a prerequisite for demonstrating
Cyber defamation is regarded as any conduct that takes place online or in
cyberspace. It typically happens when a computer is linked to the internet and
is used to misrepresent a person's entity.
An online broadcast, even if it's on an adult site, that's only seen by a few
individuals nevertheless meets the conditions for publishing.
- Statement of facts
A plaintiff cannot substantiate whether the defendant's defamatory statement
was truthful in his or her internet defamation.
The defendant might claim that the claimed rat contamination is only an
opinion. The law protects people's opinions. As a result, the applicant is
barred from filing a defamation suit.
edited photographs that mention persons or corporations are
clearly defamatory and are often shared on social media.
Although cyber defamation is a revolutionary phenomenon, the classic definition
of defamation is harm done to a person's esteem in the eyes of a third party,
and this harm can be done by spoken or written discourse, as well as indications
and visible portrayals.
The statement must be oriented at the plaintiff, and it must be made with the
goal of damaging the prestige of the person against whom the remark is made.
Cyber defamation, on the other hand, is a character assassination of someone
using a new and significantly more efficacious approach, such as the use of
current electronic gadgets. It refers to the dissemination of derogatory
information about another person in cyberspace or via computers or the Internet.
Analysing Cyber Defamation Vis-Á-Vis Ipc & It Act:
Defamation can be deemed both a civil and a criminal offense in India, and
sufferers can pursue legal redress through the Indian legal system.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Section 499:
Defamation is defined in this section. The offense of defamation is
committed when a person wants to hurt or has reason to think that their
action will cause injury to another person's reputation by the use of words
uttered or intended to be read, or symbols or apparent depictions produced
or published. Defamation can be directed towards many people, such as a
corporation or a group of people.
With the passage of the Information Technology Act of 2000, the concept of
defamation was expanded to include speech� and documents� in electronic
- Section 500
For the offense of defamation, this section stipulates a moderate punishment
in prison of up to two years , a fine, or both.
- Section 469 is concerned with forgery. If someone fabricates a
document or narrative to undermine a person's esteem. This offense is
punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine.
- Section 503 relates to the crime of criminal intimidation through the
use of electronic communication to harm one's esteem in society.
- Information Technology Act, 2000
- Section 66A
In the year 2015, the Supreme Court overturned this provision. The section
outlined the consequences of transmitting "offensive" texts by computer,
mobile phone, or tablet. As the government did not define the term
"offensive," the government began to use it as a tactic to restrict freedom
of speech. The Supreme Court rescinded the whole provision in 2015.
A person can file a complaint with the cyber-crime investigation cell if he or
she has been disrespected in cyberspace. It is a branch of the Department of
In Shreya Singhal v. Union of India
, the whole of Section 66A of the
Information Technology Act of 2000 was quashed as a breach of Article
19(1)(a) and was not preserved by Article 19(2). The Information
Technology (Procedure & Safeguards for Blocking for Public Access of
Information) Rules 2009 and Section 69A are both constitutionally valid.
In addition, Section 79 is admissible if Section 79(3)(b)
is further read down, and so on.
How To Tackle Cyber Defamation?
Anyone who has been the victim of online defamation can file a complaint with
the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal's Cyber Crime Investigation Cell.
These Cells have locations in New Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Gurgaon, Pune, and other
cities. They are in charge of all crimes involving cyberspace, as well as
offenses involving computers, computer resources, the internet, and so on.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that filing a cyber defamation case against
someone is a serious matter since the act of making a complaint puts the
accused's reputation in threat. Furthermore, the complainant bears the burden of
showing that he or she has been defamed, and if he or she is unable to do so,
the defendant has the right to sue for defamation, false and frivolous
complaints, and damages.
The Judicial Stance On Cyber Defamation:
In the first such case involving cyber-defamation, SMC Pneumatics (India)
Pvt. Ltd. v. Jogesh Kwatra
, the High Court of Delhi granted an ex-parte
ad interim injunction restraint, where a disgruntled employee sent racially
offensive, defamatory, vulgar, and disrespectful emails to the company's fellow
employers and subsidiary companies all over the world with the intension to
defame the company and its managing partner.
Furthermore, the Petitioner in Kalandi Charan Lenka v. State of Odisha
was tracked online and a fraudulent account was created in her name.
Additionally, the perpetrator sent vulgar texts to friends with the objective of
defaming the Petitioner. The High Court of Orissa concluded that the accused's
actions constitute cyber defamation and that the accused is accountable for his
defamation offenses committed through the use of false obscene photographs and
In the latest case of Swami Ramdev & Anr. v. Facebook Inc. & Ors
Justice Pratibha Singh recently issued an order to disable all defamatory
content shared online against yoga guru Baba Ramdev, with no territorial limit,
asserting that if the content is posted from India or is stored on an Indian
computer resource, Indian courts ought to have international statutory
Moreover, Baba Ramdev has not demonstrated any significant prima facie evidence
of irreparable harm, according to the court. In its appeal, Facebook claims,
among other factors, that the global takedown order violates national
sovereignty and international comity by interfering with other nations'
defamation laws. Furthermore, the aforementioned ruling also undermines the
immunities granted to them in other jurisdictions.
The aforementioned cases show several aspects of cyber defamation and the legal
remedies available to deal with it. However, in cyberspace, there are several
limits that existing international rules do not confront. Nevertheless, if a
complaint is submitted in a reasonable timeframe and in the appropriate forum,
cyber defamation and the consequent loss can be minimized.
The ease of communication has drastically enhanced with the introduction of the
era of the internet. However, there is a catch to such luxury. Because of the
ease with which data and information may be transferred through the internet, it
has become a crucial hotspot for defamation.
Despite the fact that there are
laws prohibiting people from publishing defamatory materials online, most
users are unaware of these regulations or are too reckless to detect whether
such information is defamatory or not. When free speech contradicts a person's
reputation, it is necessary for the State to impose a limit, lest free speech
becomes a powerful tool in the hands of certain individuals.
There are no distinctions in our culture, and the internet has given them with a
platform to express their opinions, participate in debates, and assess a
product, a movie, a song, or even a person. Though this platform has blessed us
with intuitive and well-read individuals, it has also brought us with cyber
defamation bullies, so we must be cautious with what we write online. According
to the Indian Penal Code, making an inflammatory message over the internet can
put one in prison.
- Indian Penal Code 1860 � 499
- Indian Penal Code 1860 � 500.
- Indian Penal Code 1860 � 469.
- Indian Penal Code 1860 � 503.
- Information Technology Act 2000 � 66A
- (2013) 12 SCC 73.
- Indian Const. art 19, cl. 1(a)
- Indian Const. art 19, cl. 2.
- Indian Penal Code 1860 � 79.
- Indian Penal Code 1860 � 79, cl. 3(b).
- National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (June 11, 2021 9:30 PM), https://cybercrime.gov.in/.
- BLAPL No.7596 of 2016.
- 2017 SCC OnLine Ori 52.
- CS (OS) 27/2019.
- Karan Tripathi, Facebook Appeals To Delhi HC DB Against Single Bench
Order For Global Blocking Of Content Against Baba Ramdev, LAW LIVE (Oct. 30,
2019, 6:50 PM), https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/facebook-appeals-delhi-hc-db-single-bench-order-global-blocking-of-content-baba-ramdev-149354?infinitescroll=1.
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