Law of Defamation
Defamation means to take away or destroy the good fame or reputation; to speak evil of; to charge falsely or to asperse. According to Winfield, ‘defamation’ is the publication of statement which tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally or which tends to make them shun or avoid that person. It is “libel” if the statement be in permanent form and “slander” if it consists in significant words spoken or gestures. In the matter of: Parmiter V/s Coupland, 1840 (6) MLW 105, it was observed that, defamation means a publication, without justification or lawful excuse, which is calculated to injure the reputation of another, by exposing him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Further, in the matter of: Myroft V/s Sleight, 1921 (37) TLR 646, it was observed that, a defamatory statement is a statement concerning any person which exposes him to hatred, ridicule or contempt or which causes him to be shunned or avoided or which has tendency to injure him in his office, profession or trade. In India, by virtue of report in the matter of: Manisha Koirala V/s Shashi Lal Nair & Ors, 2003 (2) BCR 136, following test was laid down in order to determine whether or not a particular statement is defamatory:
A. A statement concerning any person which exposes him to hatred, ridicule, or contempt, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has tendency to injure him in his office, profession or trade is defamatory;
B. A false statement about a man to his discredit is defamatory; and,
C. Words which tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally, are defamatory.