Torts Affecting Defamation
It's everyone's right to maintain and grow their personal brand identity and reputation. People are entitled to defend themselves against the entire universe. This privilege is protected under the tort of defamation. It effectively gives someone the ability to sue for damages against someone who has defamed them. There are times when a court must balance the fundamental right to free speech and expression with the right to protect oneself from harm.
Tort of defamation cases
A person's reputation is attacked in defamation. A malevolent and purposeful attempt to harm a person's reputation is what is meant by this term. Most importantly, the statement must be false to be considered defamatory. Defamation might include even the most malicious of motives. Defamation can be either libel or slander, depending on the method in which it is made. Defamation that is committed to writing is known as libel. A written or printed accusation against someone is libel, for example. Slander, on the other hand, refers to a short-lived slanderous comment. Slander, for example, is the act of making false statements about another person in order to harm that person's reputation.
There is another difference between libel and slander when it comes to punishment. Libel is a criminal offence as well as a civil wrong, but slander is only a civil wrong under the common-law definition of slander. But in India, this isn't the case. Libel and slander are both civil and criminal wrongs under Indian law.
The offence of defamation, as we have seen, is both criminal and civil. As a result, someone who has been falsely accused of defamation has the option of pursuing both legal options. Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) defines slander. The penalty for a conviction under this clause is a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine, or both.
However, a person who has been defamed has the option of suing for damages in a civil suit. Damages are determined by a variety of variables, such as the content of the statements, the dollar amount of the loss, and so on. Celebrities, politicians, and other well-known individuals have sued for libel and slander, claiming millions of dollars in damages.
Defences against defamation
Truth - In the case of defamation, the most crucial defence or argument is the truth. This is because defamation only applies to false statements. Consequently, if the remarks are proven to be accurate, the individual uttering them can avoid responsibility. However, in criminal proceedings for defamation, this defence may not apply. The defendant is solely responsible for establishing that a statement is accurate. He must demonstrate the truth in substance rather than summarily. True or false, he cannot use the defence of thinking it to be true in his mind if it is false.
Fair & Bonafide comment - If a person is accused of defamation, they have the option of claiming that their comments were made in good faith and good faith. That's why criticising without malice isn't a violation of defamation laws. If, for example, you make a statement critical of a government cabinet minister, it may not be considered defamation to do so. Here, the onus is on the defendant to show that he didn't have any ill will toward the victim. In addition, he must demonstrate that he was acting per his stated purpose.
Privilege - Certain individuals are granted special legal protections under the law in certain circumstances. A person who enjoys such privileges cannot be held liable for slander. For example, whatever statements a Member of Parliament says in Parliament are protected by an absolute privilege. Defamatory words made in violation of the Constitution are completely shielded from legal action. These kinds of advantages can be seen in legal proceedings as well.
Apology - If the individual who made the defamatory statement later apologised, he or she may be exempt from paying damages. To use this defence, the individual who was defamed must accept an apology.
Amends - Amendments are acceptable defences against defamation in English law. Defamatory statements must be corrected or retracted as part of an amendment. If a newspaper publishes a slanderous article against someone, the publication may later make an apology.