Provisions governing online defamation in India
- Section 499, Indian Penal Code
This section says that 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.
- Section 500,Indian Penal Code
This section provides for punishment. Any person held liable under section 499 will be punishable with imprisonment of two years or fine or both.
- Section 469,Indian Penal Code
This section deals with the forgery, in this if anyone creates false document or fake account by which it harms the reputation of a person. The punishment of this offence can extend up to 3 years and fine.
- Section 503,Indian Penal Code
The offense of criminal intimation by use of emails and other electronic means of communication for threatening or intimidating any person or his property or reputation.
- Section 66A,Information Technology Act,2000
This law has been struck down by the Supreme Court in the year 2015. This section defined punishment for sending ‘offensive’ messages through a computer, mobile or tablet. Since government did not clarify its stand on the word ‘offensive’, the government started using it as a tool to repress freedom of speech. In 2015 the Supreme Court quashed the whole section.
What forms of defamatory publications are admissible by courts in India?
- Any electronic record printed on a paper or recorded or copied in optical or magnetic media shall be considered as a document and shall be admissible by court.
- Online chats are also admissible.
- Electronic mails are also admissible.
- Kalandi Charan Lenka Vs. State of Odisha – In this, the petitioner was continuously being stalked, and a fake account of her was later created and obscene messages were sent to the friends by the culprit. A morphed naked picture was also posted on the walls of the hostel where the victim stayed. The court held the culprit liable for his offence.
- Rajiv Dinesh Gadkari through P.A. Depamala Gadkari vs Smt. Nilangi Rajiv Gadkari – In this case, after receiving a divorce letter from her husband, the respondent filed a suit against the husband for continuously harassing her by uploading vulgar photographs and defaming her. The offence has already been registered and maintenance of Rs. 75,000 per month has been claimed by the wife(respondent).
Read More About Cyber Defamation: https://blog.ccasociety.com/index.php/2020/02/04/cyber-defamation/