Tortious liability for defamation in India: An Analysis

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Tortious liability for defamation in India: Critical analysis.

Written By: Fiza Firdaus Ansari

It is a statement that enjoys someone’s reputation. Defamation is the act of saying false things in order to make people have a bad opinion of someone. The definition is a wrong done by a person to another reputation by words, written or spoken, sign or other visible representation. The balance between one person’s right to freedom of speech and another’s right to protect their good name.


Dr Winfield “ Defamation is the publication of a statement which he tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society, generally or, which tends to make them shun or avoid that person.”

Example:- A posted a comment on b’s blog sing that the author of the blog has been in prison for 2 years. It certainly sounds like a defamatory statement if it is false.


  •  Defamation Maybe a 7 judge or a criminal charge under section 499 and 500 of IPC.
  •  Section 499 of IPC:-  Whoever by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representation makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person is said to defame that person.
  • Section 500 of IPC:-  Whoever Devine’s another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years or with fine or both.


  •  The definition is of 2 kinds libel and slander
  •  Libel is a representation made in a permanent form like writing, movie, picture,s etc.
  •  For example-  X printed some advertisement sing Y is bankrupt but; Y was not thus, it was representation in a specific form.
  •  Whereas, if the statement is made by some spoken word or gesture then the definition is called slander.
  • For example:- A questions the chastity of B, in an interview A is slanderous.


  • To establish defamation, a plaintiff normally must prove the following:-
    • Statement of Fact
      1. Often at issue in defamation lawsuits is whether the defendant made a statement of fact or a statement of opinion.
      2. A statement of fact is a statement that can be proven as being true or false with some objective standard.
      3.  I statement of opinion is a statement that a person believes to be true but it cannot be measured against an objective standard and is usually not actionable.

Example:-  X says that I think Y is a criminal, it’s no definition.

  • Publication required
    1. Publication here means that the defamatory statements are communicated to a person other than the defamed party (3rd party).
    2.  Example:- A publish an advertisement in a local newspaper stating false information that the company of B, has committed fraud of ₹20,00,000; now this statement will amount to defamation as this newspaper will be read by many readers and will surely injure the reputation of B’s Company.


  1. The statement must be defamatory and false.
  2.  The statement must refer to the plaintiff.
  3.  The statement must cause serious harm; either on reputation or financial loss.
  4.  For example, the plaintive lost his job because of the statement made.

Case:- South India Railway co. v/s Ramakrishna I.L.R (1890)

In this case, a railway ticket collector comes to Mr Ramakrishna for a ticket but he didn’t respond when he says, that I suspect that, you are travelling without a ticket, then the plaintiff showed up the ticket and filed a case of defamation on the defendant. But, the court said there were no such cruel words used by the defendant. Hence, he is not liable.

Point’s To Be Noted

  • The law has imposed a general duty on all persons to retain from making false, defamatory statements of facts about others.
  • Defamatory statements made via the internet are also actionable.
  • Anyone who republishes or repeats defamatory statements is liable even if that person reveals the source of the statements.
The Law Communicants

About the Author

Fiza Firdaus Ansari

2nd year

B.B.A.LLB (Hons.)

Banasthali Vidyapith

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