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Key Takeaways

  • Defamation cases can fall under civil and criminal cases both.
  • It is covered under tort law as well as IPC section 499 and 500.
  • There are four major steps to file a suit namely file a complaint, service and discovery, depositions and settlement.

Introduction

Defamation is defined as a statement made orally or in writing that damages someone's reputation. The term "reputation" refers to a vital and vital aspect of a person's dignity. Defamation can take place both vocally and in writing. Defamation rules have been enacted in India's Constitution to protect an individual's reputation. The goal of this law is to protect an individual's right to their reputation, as well as their freedom of speech and expression. The defamation has been classified into two sorts based on the behaviour of the defamation: Libel defamation is defined as defamation of an individual in a written medium, such as print, photographs, cartoons, etc., that is inaccurate and can harm the person's reputation. It can be enforced even if there is no proof of damage because it is written and may be provided as evidence. It demonstrates a grudge and a deliberate attempt to harm someone's reputation. Slander defamation occurs when an individual is accused vocally, through sign language or gestures, and their reputation is harmed. When an offended party presents proof of damage, it is actionable. It could be inadvertent, or it could be the result of any prepared moment's provocation.

Types of Cases

In India, defamation can be classified as both a civil and a criminal offence.

Civil Offense - The remedy for civil offences that are covered under Tort Law. According to the legislation, an injured individual can go to the district or high courts to obtain damages from the accused individual in the form of monetary compensation.

Criminal Offense - Libel and slander can also be considered criminal offences under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The victim of a criminal offence has the right to file a criminal prosecution against the offender.A guilty person facing a criminal court of justice faces either a simple sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine, or both. Under criminal law, it is a bailable, non-cognizable, and compoundable offence.

Requirements and Steps to File a Case

The copy of a statement is the most crucial condition. It could be in the form of a printed or electronic statement. For the defamation case, the following points must be mentioned in the statement.

i. A malicious remark
ii. The victim must be mentioned directly or indirectly in the statement.
iii. A minimum of one person other than the victim must be informed of the statement.

A few points that should not be included in a defamation statement:

i. In the national or public interest, make an honest, true, or dependable declaration, publish it, or speak about it.
ii. The public's perception
iii. Conduct in response to publicly posed inquiries
iv. Any type of publication of court processes, trials, or court decisions.
v. Once the statement is complete, you must deliver the supporting documentation to an attorney. The nature of the supporting documents is determined by the nature of the case. In the case of monetary reimbursement, for example, account or bank related documentation that show the loss of money must be produced.

1. File a Complaint - Once the relevant documents have been reviewed by an attorney and the first investigations have been completed, a complaint can be submitted. This is the initial stage in the legal process. Because this is a slow-moving process, the plaintiff must be more patient in such claims.

2. Service and Discovery - After the case is filed, the defendant is served. The defendant is given time to respond in writing. After then, the court issues a scheduling order that includes all of the essential deadlines. The term "discovery" is first used here. The official investigation conducted by both parties in a case is known as discovery. Each side provides the other a list of questions to which the other must respond under oath. This procedure aids both parties in learning about the other.

3. Depositions - A deposition is a process in which witnesses are examined under oath by a counsel for the opposing side. This aids him in determining the case's and witnesses' strength. They may interrogate people (besides witnesses) who are involved in the case, such as a doctor, friends, and so on.

4. Settlement - Following the discovery phase, the settlement process begins. The deposition procedure provides an attorney with a greater perspective and understanding of the matter. The attorney informs and advises the client about the settlement after taking into account all of the case's details. Whether the lawsuit should be settled out of court or taken to trial is entirely up to the client. However, because they have considerable expertise dealing with such matters, the attorney's advice should be taken into consideration. The lawyer is aware of the case's strength or weakness. Even if the case is strong, an attorney may advise settlement depending on the circumstances. While considering the settlement, there are a few scenarios that must be addressed. One should trust their counsel, but ultimately determine whether or not to settle the case.

Conclusion

The goal of defamation law is to safeguard a person's reputation. Meanwhile, additional cases have come to light, particularly in politics. The ruling offers closure to the case, but it also raises specific questions in the minds of the public. For example, penal provisions are acceptable in a developing economy like India, especially in an era when reformative justice is replacing retributive justice. Furthermore, the nation's growing intolerance and lack of patience is another issue that may be exacerbated as a result of this decision. In such instances, it is necessary to let go of inhibitions and consider possible solutions. In this day, one such proposition might be the right to respond. However, because of the potential chilling effect on an individual or organisation, the right to respond has only added to the scepticism. The right to respond, on the other hand, appears to be a more polite way of dealing with the situation than jumping to conclusions, convicting, and seeking damages. This notion has been used in some US states and other nations. Similarly, we can apply this concept to ourselves.


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