by- Vidushi Arya.
The term “Cyber” was coined by William Gibson. It meant “the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs”. As the technology keeps on advancing , so do the problems connected with the same, i.e. with the introduction of the Internet, the life of the people had become easier, however what was to be noted was that, with this innovation the crimes in the Cyberspace were also growing rapidly .
One such crime in the Cyberspace which was targeting the dignity of an individual was “Cyber defamation”. Cyber Defamation is the intentional infringement of another individual’s rights in order to have a good name . It may be heard, seen, or read by a number of individuals , through the internet or any other form of electronic media throughout the world. This may cause an immense damage to the reputation of an individual , as the information provided may be incorrect and people might believe it to be true.
In simple words , Cyber Defamation is the publishing of a defamatory statement against any person with the aid of computers or the internet which also covers the uploading of defamatory videos or audios on the website.
Legal Aspects of Cyber Defamation:-
- Provisions under IPC:
The offence of defamation is dealt with in the Indian Penal Code under Section 499 , it states that “if any person publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing that such imputation would harm the reputation of such person through words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representation, the person doing so would be committing the offence of defamation.” Further, S.499 lists out certain cases which would not be considered as defamation which are :
- Imputation made which are true and are made or published for the public good. However, whether they are made for the public good is a question of fact.
- Opinions made in good faith with regard to public conduct of the public servants or , the conduct of any person touching any public question.
- Publication of any true report or the proceedings of a court, or the result of such proceedings.
- Opinion made in good faith related to the merits of the case.
- Opinion made in good faith with regard to merits of any performance which its author has submitted to the judgement of the public.
- Censure passed in good faith by person having lawful authority over the other.
- Accusation preferred in good faith to authorised person.
- Imputations made in good faith by a person for the protection of his or the other’s interests.
- Caution intended for good of person to whom conveyed or for public good.
The Punishment for the offence is highlighted under Section 500,501and 502 of the Indian penal Code,1860. Section 500 states that ” whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years , or fine, or with both”. Whereas, S. 501 , states that,” whoever prints or engraves any matter, knowing or having good reason to believe that such matter is defamatory of any person , shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years , or with fine or with both”.
Section 502 deals with the punishment for the sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter which shall simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years , or fine or with both.
Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 deals with the “Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service. The essential of this section are:
- Any person sends any information which is grossly offensive or has menacing character by means of a computer resource or communication device, or
- Any person sends any information which he knows to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred , or ill will by means of a computer resource or communication device, or
- Any person sends any electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience by the means of a computer resource or communication device , or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages.
- The person shall be punishable for a term of 3 years and with fine.
Section 80 of the IT Act, 2000 empowers a police officer not below the rank of an inspector or any other officer of the Central or the State Government authorised in this behalf to enter a public place and search and arrest without a warrant .
There were certain advisories that were issued on the 9th of January 2013, where it was stated that the State Governments are advised that with respect to the arrest of any person in a complaint registered under S.66 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 , the police officer of the respective police station under the state jurisdiction may not arrest any person until it has obtained a prior approval of such arrest, from an officer not below the rank of the Inspector General of Police in the metropolitan cities, or of an officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police or Superintendent of Police at the district level, as the case maybe .
This advisory had diluted the power of arrest granted to an inspector under S.80 of the IT Act, 2000, as the advisory stated that no arrest under S.66 A could be made without the prior approval for such arrest from an officer not below the rank of the Inspector General of Police in the metropolitan cities, or of an officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police or Superintendent of Police at the district level.
First Case of Cyber Defamation:-
Facts: The defendant Jogesh Kwatra was employee of the plaintiff’s company . He was found sending defamatory emails to his employers and the different subsidiaries of the company all over the world. Plaintiff filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining the defendant from posting such defamatory remarks.
Plaintiff’s Counsels Contention : E-mails sent by defendant were distinctly obscene, vulgar, abusive, intimidating, humiliating and defamatory in nature, and were harming the reputation of their client all over India and across the Globe.
Held: The Hon’ble Delhi High Court allowed an ex-parte ad interim injunction observing that prime facie case was made out by the plaintiff and restrained the defendant from posting such remarks.
To defame a person gives pleasure to many , what is not understood is that it can harm the integrity and the soul of an individual and spoil their lives. There are times when people might consider it funny to say anything and everything , what one must keep in their mind is we should watch our words when we speak. Earlier defamation was done verbally but not now out political disparities and aggression it is done using public platforms , especially by taking advantage of the cyberspace. Sometimes, people might even write down or say things which unknowingly can cause harm to others and themselves. Therefore, this article has clearly states the punishments and the liabilities of individual committing such personal crimes.