The well known name of Right to Reputation is ‘Defamation Law’. In layman terms defamation means, publication of a statement which tends to cause harm of one’s image in a public domain and in eyes of right thinking members of the society. ‘Libel’ and ‘Slander’ are its two types. The prior one refers to a written defamatory statement and the later one is concerned with oral defamatory statement with intent to harm.
It has the following 7 elements:
The famous instance where notice was issued to Delhi Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal for defamation by our late Finance and Corporate Affair Minister, Arun Jaitley over the usage of ‘ scandalous’ words. Later the case got dismissed as the CM proposed an apology for the same.
It is stated under section 499 if Indian Penal Code, 1860.Punishment for defamation is stated u/s 500 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 which states that whosoever, commits this crime will be liable to simple imprisonment of 2yrs or fine or both.
The right against misinformation on social media falls under the purview of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution i.e. Right to life and personal liberty and is considered as a fundamental right in eyes of law. Some landmark judgements are as followed-
In the case of Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India, a petition regarding the decriminalization of defamation was filed. The petition challenged the constitutional validity of Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is an unreasonable restriction on the freedom of speech and expression. The apex court held that criminal defamation under Section 499 and 500 did not violate Art. 19(1)(a) as it is a reasonable restriction under Art. 19(2). The term‘defamation’in Art. 19(2) includes both civil and criminal defamation. Section 499 and 500 IPC was held to be non-discriminatory and non-arbitrary and not violative of the right to equality guaranteed under Art. 14 of the Constitution. While in a democracy an individual has a right to criticize and dissent, but his right under Art. 19(1)(a) is not absolute and he cannot defame another person as that would offend the victim’s fundamental right to reputation which is an integral part of Art. 21 of the Constitution.
In Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the petitioners challenged the validity of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act (ITA) contending that it was not a reasonable restriction on the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Art. 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. They argued that the impugned section was unconstitutional because it provided protection against annoyance, inconvenience, insult, injury, or criminal intimidation which is not covered in Art. 19(2). The court found section 66A of (ITA) to be vague and invalidated it on the ground of being violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression.
There are some of the grounds which the accused person can seek. For further information click on this link.