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  • Writer's pictureChambers of Daksha Kumar

Is defamation a civil or a criminal offence?

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

Defamation should be brought under civil law, according to the majority of individuals. The inclusion of defamation in the criminal law and the imposition of punitive penalties, according to some, might have an adverse influence on an individual's right to freedom of speech.

The two provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deal with defamation, Sections 499 and 500. Anyone who intentionally harms others, uses harsh words, or publishes any imputation against them is guilty of defamation under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code.

The punishment is defined by section 500 of the IPC, which states that anyone who deliberately defames someone is liable to a sentence of two years in prison, a fine, or both.

Defamation cases can fall under both civil and criminal law in India, according to the Indian constitution. In civil cases, the victim might go to a High Court or a lower court to file a defamation complaint against the defendant and seek monetary compensation.

In criminal cases, a person found guilty of defamation can be sentenced to up to two years in prison under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.

Even if there are many arguments against section 499 of the IPC since it takes away a person's fundamental right to free speech. According to section, a person can be found guilty under the defamation act if they make a comment about a deceased person, tell the truth about someone, make an ironic statement, or even on the mere allegation of conspiring with the accused.

All of these provisions make this statute debatable and infringe on the fundamental right to free expression. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, holds another viewpoint. According to the apex court, the act was not deemed to be infringing on the right to free speech and no basis for conflict was found.

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