Author: Nitin Bhargav Kotha, Student at DSNLU, Vizag
Now days, the technology has been improved a lot that many of us are using online sources for the beneficial purpose in a very ease and simple manner. At the same time there are many advantages and disadvantages with the improvement in the technology. These days the internet is used in a wide range that internet became the main source to the communication and access to the information, so these things became like a cake walk for us these days. But there is a great misuse of this increase in technology and internet sources. These days there is a wide use of the social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sources and because of these apps there is ongoing of the images of persons and sharing their personal data in these social media became a trend policy and this has a wide scope that anyone can post their opinions in the way of comments that it can be a means to the increasing risk of Cyber Defamation.
The word ‘defamation’ generally mean that the cause of damage to the person’s reputation through the various types like publishing a false statement about the person leads to the defamation, saying to the 3rd party about others in a wrong way leads to defamation, etc,.
During this internet age, the word ‘cyber defamation’ generally means that publishing a false statement which will definitely damage the reputation of a person or which may be the means to injure or demean the reputation of the particular individual or a group of people.
These days the defamation cases filing in the judiciary are mainly due to the cyber space and also this is becoming a great problem to the security of women. So, Information Technology Act, 2000, and many different laws have been incorporated in our judicial system to punish the accused of those cyber crimes.
An intentionally false statement made by a person who disrespects the other person and harms his reputation in the society and also this work decreases the confidence on him among his colleagues and other people in the society. This will definitely harm the person mentally. So there are some remedies available for the person which made the person who made a false statement liable, as it can come under case of torts.
This to be considered as a defamation there should be definitely be three points to be satisfied by the party,
- In some cases; a person may not know that there published a false statement which harms his reputation. At that time as the statement was not known to him that he cannot go and sue the person who made a false statement.
- And the next most important thing is that the intentionally made false statement must refer to the plaintiff.
- And the statement which published on respect to the plaintiff must be defamatory in nature. And it needs to make a bad opinion on plaintiff in the minds of the others.
In general the defamation is basically divided into the two types
- Libel – a false statement which was written and published.
- Slander – a false statement which was made orally is defamation in verbal form.
In a general way to say that; the cyber defamation is the defamation made by computer as a tool.
As because the technical machines and the internet sources are using in a wide range not only in India but also across the whole world, and mainly this cyber defamation is caused because of the means of internet as it can give opportunity to provide the personal opinions, personal interests in the way of comments in social media of cyber space. These days these cyber defamation cases were also increased.
Generally these days this new type of defamation that is cyber defamation has been emerged and its effects and consequences shows a great impact on the present day people all over the world. As the defamation takes place through the usage of electronic machines we called this as the new type of defamation. That means this to understand easily we can say that making a defamatory statement in the cyberspace through the means of internet and computer sources. This is the far more effective method as this leads to the defendant as he has a great scope of escaping as he can appeal in the court of law that it is his fundamental right that he has a great right to speak i.e. Freedom of expression and Freedom of right to speak, so these days many cases have been registered under cyber defamation not only in India but also all over the world. That is if a person who publish a statement with the malice intention and it must be in negative manner which is false according to the person to whom is it referring; in any website or online source then it is referred as a case of cyber defamation. So, here to underwent as a case of cyber defamation it must satisfy the three most important conditions that
- The made statement must refer to the plaintiff.
- The made statement must have malice intention.
- The statement must be defamatory in the view of a third person.
To know how the person is liable under cyber defamation in India,
- Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
1. Section 499
Defamation – “Whoever by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, 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, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.”
“Explanation 1 – It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased person, if the imputation would harm the reputation of that person if living, and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives.
Explanation 2 – It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such.
Explanation 3 – An imputation in the form of an alternative or expressed ironically, may amount to defamation.
Explanation 4 – No imputation is said to harm a person’s reputation, unless that imputation directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes it to be believed that the body of that person is in a loathsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgraceful.”
2. Section 500
Punishment for defamation – Whoever criticizes another will be rebuffed with basic detainment for a term which may reach out to two years, or with fine, or with both. Printing or etching matter known to be disparaging.
3. Section 501
Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory – “Whoever prints or engraves any matter, knowing or having good reason to believe that such matter is defamatory of any person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
4. Section 502
Sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter – “Whoever sells or offers for sale any printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter, knowing that it contains such matter, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
- Under Information Technology Act, 2000.
Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc – Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,
(a) Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or
(b) Any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device;
(c) Any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.
Explanation – For the purposes of this section, terms electronic mail and electronic mail message means a message or information created or transmitted or received on a computer, computer system, computer resource or communication device including attachments in text, image, audio, video and any other electronic record, which may be transmitted with the message.
In the mean while in 2015 the Supreme Court of India has dismissed this section 66A of Information act, 2000 as it did not defined the meaning of the word ‘Offensive’.
RULES TO FOLLOW TO ADMIT THE CASE IN THE COURT OF LAW
There are some rules to say that this is admissible in Indian court of law. And these rules are made according to the Indian Evidence Act, 1926.
These can be getting to known according to the section 65A and 65B of this Indian Evidence Act.
- Any type of electronic record copied in this cyber space can be considered as a document and it can be admissible.
- E-mails are also admissible.
- Online chatting also admitted in the court of law.
- SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Jogesh Kwatra
It was India’s first cyber defamatory case in this corporate world, in this case the defendant who was employee in the plaintiff’s company was frequently send the emails to his employers in which it constitute that in so vulgar manner defames the company and also the Managing Director of the company. Then the suit filed by the plaintiff to restrain the defendant from sending such type of vulgar messages. Then the Delhi High Court pronounces its Judgment as that to restrain the defendant from such type of defamatory messages in the cyberspace.
After this case in India, Cyber Crime Investigation Cells have been established.
After all the go through of the topic I feel that the present having laws in our judicial system are sufficient to punish the offenders and must take care of the exceptions. These days there are most cyber crimes are taking place and mostly about the defamation of a particular person even the politicians and higher dignitaries of the society, to make an end to this the judicial system has to take care of the existing laws and also if need can propound new laws related to the cyber defamation.
To the judiciary system if I have a chance I would definitely suggest that to establish new and special cyber courts across the India which are particularly to deal only cyber crimes and Judges also must be who are well known about the Cyber Law in India. And its better if Government can take a look on the existing social media and its terms and conditions and can control the apps and can work like if any defamatory statement published in any social media or websites first have to find is it true or not through the cyber investigation cells and also if it was found that it was a defamatory statement the government has to take care of the statement published not to go deep into the public as if it go deep it can harm the reputation of the plaintiff greatly. So, if Government and Judicial System work together on the cyber issues then these cyber crimes will definitely decrease and come to an end.
 § 499, Indian Penal Code, No.45,1860.
 § 500, Indian Penal Code, No.45,1860.
 § 501, Indian Penal Code, No.45,1860.
 § 502, Indian Penal Code, No.45,1860.
 § 66A, Information and technology Act, No. 21, 2000.
 RFA 268/2014