The meaning of defamation

A defamatory statement is one which imputes conduct or qualifies to disparage or degrade any person or expose him to contempt, ridicule or public hatred, or to prejudice him in the way of his office profession & trade.   The standard test of defamation is the reasonable man, the court will decide whether if a statement is defamation or not by seeing with eyes of a reasonable man, The meaning of the offence of defamation consists in its tendency to cause that description of pain which is felt by a person who knows he to be the object of the unfavorable sentiments of his fellow creatures. If there is a controversy as to whether the material complained of is defamatory or not, the court will first have to decide, as a question of law, as to whether the said material is capable of being understood in a defamatory sense. If the court find it affirmative, it will then only proceed to determine  whether said material is understood in a defamatory sense.   Reputation has been used to denote the estimation in which a person is held by others, the character imputed to him in the community or the society to which he belongs. A person may not be possessing property but may be having good character and reputation. The defamatory imputation on character or any person, to be defamatory had to be proved by the prosecution to be such as may have directly or in the estimation of the others, lowered the moral or intellectual character of officer in respect of his conduct as a public officer or a person in respect to his conduct in the society. Therefore the existence of the reputation of a person and it’s fall thereof should be primarily be proved by the prosecution.In the offence related to defamation it is not necessary to prove that actual harm was caused, if words are prima facie defamatory it would be sufficient.

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By Adv. Nitish Banka
Practicing Advocate District and High courts in Delhi/NCR

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