DESK. There are many types of political defamation cases. The introduction, nature, type and facts of political defamation also differ.
Cases of Political Defamation. INTRODUCTION : Defamation is defined in section 499 of the Indian Penal Code as- “Whoever, by to 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 believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.
TYPES OF DEFAMATION : Libel’ and ‘Slander’ are two categories into which defamation can be classified. While the former refers to Written Defamation, the latter refers to spoken form
ESSENTIALS OF DEFAMATION
• The Statement in question must be defamatory in nature.
• The allegation or statement must refer to the petitioner
• It should be a statement that must be published, communicated to at least one person, apart from the affected one.
NATURE OF DEFAMATION
• Defamation by nature is both a civil and criminal offence.
• In civil law, defamation is punishable under the Law of Torts by imposing punishment in the form of damages awarded to the aggrieved party.
• In Criminal law, Defamation is a bailable, non-cognizable offence and can be compounded.
• The Allegation or statement has to be false, expressed without the consent of the affected person.
• Provision of claiming monetary compensation from the defendant for the defamation.
• The statements or the allegations levelled must pass the test of presence of substance, facts defamatory in nature.
• The defamatory content is one meant to damage the reputation of the affected party, causing them hatred, hostility or ridicule.
• The defamation and its nature are calculated from the eye of the common citizen and their understanding of the matter.
• In matters of criminal defamation, imprisonment can be awarded, as per Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 500.
• Under a criminal suit, the intention of the allegation must involve a criminality, i.e. to defame, with malicious intent.
• Must be established beyond reasonable doubt that the action was meant for lowering, harming the reputation of the affected party.
CASES OF DEFAMATION
1. Cassidy VS Daily mirror newspapers, 1929
Facts of the case
• man named Cassidy, who for some reason also called himself Corrigan and described himself as a General in the Mexican Army, was married to a lady who also called herself Mrs. Cassidy or Mrs. Corrigan.
• Her husband occasionally came and stayed with her at her flat, and her acquaintances met him.
• Cassidy achieved some notoriety in racing circles and in indiscriminate relations with women, and at a race meeting he posed, in company with a lady, to a racing photographer, to whom he said he was engaged to marry the lady and the photographer might announce it.
• The photographer, without any further inquiry, sent the photograph to the Daily Mirror with an inscription: "Mr.
M. Corrigan, the race horse owner, and Miss X" "whose engagement has been announced," and the Daily Mirror published the photograph and inscription. This paper was read by the female acquaintances of Mrs. Cassidy or Mrs. Corrigan, who gave evidence that they understood from it that that lady was not married to Mr.
M. Corrigan and had no legal right to take his name, and that they formed a bad opinion of her in consequence.
• Mrs. Cassidy accordingly brought an action for libel against the newspaper setting out these words with an innuendo, meaning thereby that the plaintiff was an immoral woman who had cohabited with Corrigan without being married to him.
Judgement : In the first instance, the judge held that in the circumstance publication was capable of conveying a meaning defamatory of the plaintiff and directed the jury that if the publication reasonably conveyed to reasonably minded people who knew the circumstances an aspersion on the moral character of the plaintiff, then their verdict should be for the plaintiff
• The jury returned the verdict for the plaintiff of euro 500 as there were considerable evidence of damage to social reputation
2. Huth vs Huth
Facts of the case : The defendant, Captain Huth, sent an allegedly defamatory letter in an unclosed envelope through the post to his four children.
• The letter contained an implication that the children were illegitimate.
• The letter was taken out of the envelope and read by a butler in breach of his duties and out of curiosity.
• At trial, the claim was dismissed on the basis that there was no evidence of publication of the libellous information.
Judgement: The Court of Appeal was of the view that it was not right to treat a letter in an “ungummed” envelope with a halfpenny stamp as though it were an open letter.
Such a letter required some act by a person before they could be read and the Court could not presume that such letters would be opened in the ordinary course of business.
Therefore, the defendant could not be taken to have known that the letter would have been taken out of the envelope and there was accordingly no evidence of publication of the libel in the case.
- Aadya Rastogi