Criminal Case of Defamation after Acquittal in 498a

The question is can you put a case of defamation on wife after you get acquittal in 498a.

The issue has complicated answer and has mixed set of judgments some are in favor of husband and some are against.

Before proceeding let us analyse what is section 499 of IPC is

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 expected, 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
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

public servant in the discharge of his public functions,
or respecting his character, so far as his character
appears in that conduct, and no further.

First Exception.- Imputation of truth which
public good requires to be made or published.- It
is not defamation to impute anything which is true
concerning any person, if it be for the public good that
the imputation should be made or published. Whether
or not it is for the public good is a question of fact.

Ninth Exception.- Imputation made in good
faith by person for protection of his or other’s
interests.- It is not defamation to make an imputation

Gen-really two exceptions are taken when imputation is made in pleadings

But do pleadings in court amount to publication?

Now there are conflicting decisions…

J. Gnana Kumar
Vs. Joy Kanmani reported in LAWS (MAD)-2007-11-
513, wherein the respondent wife had instituted a
private complaint against her husband for the alleged
offence punishable under Section 500 of IPC. The
Madras High Court was pleased to observe that, one of
the basic legal requirements of Section 499 of IPC is
that, the imputation should be either made directly to
the knowledge of third parties, or the same should be
published to the knowledge of the third parties.
However, in the case before it, even as per the
allegations made in the complaint, it observed that, the
imputations cannot be considered as published either
directly or indirectly since they were pleadings filed

before the Court of Law which are not public documents
to which anybody can have free access. The Madras
High Court, however, opined in the same case that,
though the pleadings are handled by the Court staff and
copy is furnished to the respondent therein, which can
be made public even by the respondent, but those
things would not amount to publication by the accused.
Learned counsel for the accused also relied upon a
judgment by a co-ordinate bench of this Court in the
case of S. Nagaraj Vs. K. Nanda Kumar reported in
LAWS(KAR)-2014-10-20, wherein this Court was
pleased to observe that, the complainant alleging
defamation is required to establish that the defamatory
matter was published or that it was communicated to
some person other than the person about whom it is
addressed. It was further observed that, mere
communication of the defamatory matter to the person
defamed is not ‘publication’ and that the ‘publication’

should be made to others with an intention to defame
the concerned person – publication to person defamed
may amount to an insult and not ‘defamation’.
Learned counsel for the accused also relied upon
the judgment of another co-ordinate bench of this Court
in the case of Chirashree Das Gupta Vs. Amitabh Das
S/o. Late Punyanand Das reported in LAWS(KAR)-
2018-8-304, wherein this Court was pleased to observe
that making a defamatory matter known after it has
been written to some person other than the person for
whom it is written is a ‘publication’ in its legal sense. A
defamatory matter must, therefore, be communicated to
some person other than the person concerning whom it
is written. Communicating a defamatory matter to the
person concerned only cannot be said to be a

In the case of Smt. Madhuri Mukund Chitnis Vs.
Mukund Martand Chitnis and another reported in 1990
CRL.L.J. 2084, the Bombay High Court was pleased to
observe that, the imputations made in a proceeding
which is filed in a Court is clearly a publication. It
further observed that even a publication to an authority
over the person against whom the imputations are made
must be held to be sufficient publication which falls
within the purview of the said Section 499 of IPC.
In the case of M.K. Prabhakaran and another
Vs.T.E. Gangadharan and another reported in 2006
CRI.L.J. 1872, the Kerala High Court, in a matter where
it is alleged that defamatory statements against

complainant were made in a written statement filed
before the Court held that, once a statement has been
filed in a Court of Law, that statement can be taken as
published. If such a statement amounts to per se
defamatory, then it is the duty of the accused to
establish that, they are justified in making such a
statement under any of the exceptions to Section 499 of
In the case of Sanjay Mishra Vs. Government of
NCT of Delhi & another, the Delhi High Court in
paragraphs 11 and 12 of its judgment was pleased to
observe as below:-
“11. In Sandyal V.Bhaba Sundari Debi 7
Ind.Cas.803:15 C.W.N.
995:14 C.L.J.31 the learned Judges, following the
case of Augada Ram Shaha V. Nemai Chand Shaha
23 C.867;12 Ind.Dec.(n.s.)576, held that defamatory
statements made in the written statement of a party
in a judicial proceedings are not absolutely privileged
in this country, and that a qualified privilege in this

regard cannot be claimed in respect of such
statements, unless they fall within the Exceptions to
Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code. Undisputedly,
the case of the petitioner was not in any of these

  1. For criminal purposes “publication” has a
    wider meaning than it has in civil law, since it
    includes a communication to the person defamed
    alone. The prosecution for defamation in criminal
    cases can be brought although the only publication is
    to the person defamed as it is very likely to provoke
    a breach between the persons involved….”
    In the case of Thangavelu Chettiar Vs.
    Ponnammal reported in AIR 1966 Mad 363, the Madras
    High Court was pleased to observe that, there can be no
    doubt that the defamation contained in the plaint was
    published by the plaint being filed in the Court.


In the case of Sushma Rani the court has held that the putting false allegations

Adv. Nitish Banka