DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST CYBER DEFAMATION

A Practical Guide with Case Studies, Sample Legal Notices & More!
Elements
Successful defamation case depends on whether the prima facia evidence fulfils the basic requirement put forth by the law.
Defenses
Learn how you can defend against a cyber defamation suit and respond to the allegations with a point-by-point rebuttal.
Remedies
Exercise your legal rights and seek remedy in terms of monetary compensation, apology, take down of content, and punishment.

ALL THE HELP YOU NEED

Learn strategies and tactics to protect yourself from malicious attacks from competitors, disgruntled employees, and other persons.

QUICK PEEK INSIDE

Everything you need to defend defamation!
What is Defamation?
Publication of any defamatory content that causes harm to the reputation of an individual or an entity for an ordinary person.
Power of Anonymity
The wrong notion that anonymity can help to escape from the clutches of law has increased in the commission of cyber defamation crimes.
Elements
To justify a defamation charge, essential elements required are an intention to harm, publication, false statement, etc.
Defenses
Mere publishing does not amount to defamation. Especially, if you had expressed as a fair comment, or on good faith that will help the public.
Laws
Learn how the Indian legal system deals with the defamation charges from IPC to Information Technology Act.
Legal Notices
Legal notice must be the first step in responding to the defamation crime. Make sure you provide relevant details along with screenshots of defamatory content, urls, emails, etc.

Confused about handling defamation charge?

The book explains in great detail on how you can use the defamation defences.

READERS' FEEDBACK

what readers are saying
"Thank you for the opportunity to grab the book before the official launch. This book is a great insight on how to deal with online defamation and protect brand reputation from the competitors or unknown persons."
Sam Emmanuel
Entrepreneur

MEET THE AUTHOR

Cyber Defamation Lawyer

GR Rajesh Kumar is a cyber defamation lawyer based out of Bangalore, India, working across legal areas with a special interest in cyber law, data protection, intellectual property rights, contract law, family/divorce law, business law, employment law, and criminal litigation.

He is graduated from Karnataka State Law University, Bangalore and has been litigating ever since. He has conversant with the common laws and legal procedures applicable to  jurisdictions in the USA, the UK, and Australia having an overall experience of over 22 years in both legal and non-legal work.

Bonus: Sample Defamation Legal Notices

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CONTACT US

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FAQ

Most frequently asked questions.

What is this book all about?

The book deals with the legal provisions, popular cases on cyber defamation.

What are the laws dealing with defamation in India?

Civil Defamation;

Criminal Defamation under Section 499, 500 of IPC

Do you have specific advice for Startups and Entrepreneurs?

Yes, I have covered this topic in great detail.

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides punishment for online Defamation

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides punishment for online Defamation.

Section 66A can be read as follows

66A. Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc..-

Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,-

(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or

(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently makes by making use of such computer resource or a communication device;

(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

Explanation: For the purposes of this section, terms “Electronic mail" and “Electronic Mail Message" means a message or information created or transmitted or received on a computer, computer system, computer resource or communication device including attachments in text, image, audio, video and any other electronic record, which may be transmitted with the message.

Section 65A and Section 65B of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides for Admissibility of electronic records as evidence. 

Which is the important case law for damaging of corporate reputation?

SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Jogesh Kwatra

In India’s first case of cyber defamation, a Court of Delhi assumed jurisdiction over a matter where a corporate’s reputation was being defamed through emails and passed an important ex-parte injunction.

In this case, the defendant Jogesh Kwatra being an employ of the plaintiff company started sending derogatory, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, filthy and abusive emails to his employers as also to different subsidiaries of the said company all over the world with the aim to defame the company and its Managing Director Mr. R K Malhotra. The plaintiff filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining the defendant from doing his illegal acts of sending derogatory emails to the plaintiff.

On behalf of the plaintiffs it was contended that the emails sent by the defendant were distinctly obscene, vulgar, abusive, intimidating, humiliating and defamatory in nature.

Counsel further argued that the aim of sending the said emails was to malign the high reputation of the plaintiffs all over India and the world. He further contended that the acts of the defendant in sending the emails had resulted in invasion of legal rights of the plaintiffs. Further the defendant is under a duty not to send the aforesaid emails. It is pertinent to note that after the plaintiff company discovered the said employee could be indulging in the matter of sending abusive emails, the plaintiff terminated the services of the defendant.

After hearing detailed arguments of Counsel for Plaintiff, Hon’ble Judge of the Delhi High Court passed an exparte ad interim injunction observing that a prima facie case had been made out by the plaintiff. Consequently, the Delhi High Court restrained the defendant from sending derogatory, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, humiliating and abusive emails either to the plaintiffs or to its sister subsidiaries all over the world including their Managing Directors and their Sales and Marketing departments. Further, Hon’ble Judge also restrained the defendant from publishing, transmitting or causing to be published any information in the actual world as also in cyberspace which is derogatory or defamatory or abusive of the plaintiffs.

What is Section 499 IPC?

499. Defamation.—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 expected, to defame that person.

Explanation 1.—It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased person, if the imputation would harm the reputation of that person if living, and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives.

Explanation 2.—It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such.

Explanation 3.—An imputation in the form of an alternative or expressed ironically, may amount to defamation. Explanation 4.—No imputation is said to harm a person’s reputa­tion, unless that imputation directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes it to be believed that the body of that person is in a loathsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgrace­ful.

Illustrations

(a) A says—“Z is an honest man; he never stole B’s watch”; in­tending to cause it to be believed that Z did steal B’s watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one of the exceptions.
(b) A is asked who stole B’s watch. A points to Z, intending to cause it to be believed that Z stole B’s watch. This is defama­tion unless it fall within one of the exceptions.
(c) A draws a picture of Z running away with B’s watch, intending it to be believed that Z stole B’s watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one of the exceptions.
First Exception.
—Imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or published.—
It is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the imputation should be made or published. Whether or not it is for the public good is a question of fact.
Second Exception.
—Public conduct of public servants.
—It is not defamation to express in a good faith any opinion whatever re­specting the conduct of a public servant in the discharge of his public functions, or respecting his character, so far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.
Third Exception.
—Conduct of any person touching any public question.—It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of any person touching any public question, and respecting his character, so far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.
Illustration
It is not defamation in A to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting Z’s conduct in petitioning Government on a public question, in signing a requisition for a meeting on a public question, in presiding or attending a such meeting, in forming or joining any society which invites the public support, in voting or canvassing for a particular candidate for any situa­tion in the efficient discharges of the duties of which the public is interested. Fourth Exception.—Publication of reports of proceedings of Courts.—It is not defamation to publish substantially true report of the proceedings of a Court of Justice, or of the result of any such proceedings.
Explanation.—A Justice of the Peace or other officer holding an inquiry in open Court preliminary to a trial in a Court of Jus­tice, is a Court within the meaning of the above section.
Fifth Exception.—Merits of case decided in Court or conduct of witnesses and others concerned.—It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the merits of any case, civil or criminal, which has been decided by a Court of Justice, or respecting the conduct of any person as a party, witness or agent, in any such case, or respecting the character of such person, as far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.
Illustrations
(a) A says—“I think Z’s evidence on that trial is so contradic­tory that he must be stupid or dishonest”. A is within this exception if he says this is in good faith, in as much as the opin­ion which he expresses respects Z’s character as it appears in Z’s conduct as a witness, and no further.
(b) But if A says—“I do not believe what Z asserted at that trial because I know him to be a man without veracity”; A is not within this exception, in as much as the opinion which he express of Z’s character, is an opinion not founded on Z’s conduct as a witness. Sixth
Exception.—Merits of public performance.—It is not defa­mation to express in good faith any opinion respecting the merits of any performance which its author has submitted to the judgment of the public, or respecting the character of the author so far as his character appears in such performance, and no further.
Explanation.—A performance may be substituted to the judgment of the public expressly or by acts on the part of the author which imply such submission to the judgment of the public.
Illustrations
(a) A person who publishes a book, submits that book to the judgment of the public.
(b) A person who makes a speech in public, submits that speech to the judgment of the public.
(c) An actor or singer who appears on a public stage, submits his acting or signing in the judgment of the public.
(d) A says of a book published by Z—“Z’s book is foolish; Z must be a weak man. Z’s book is indecent; Z must be a man of impure mind”. A is within the exception, if he says this in good faith, in as much as the opinion which he expresses of Z respects Z’s character only so far as it appears in Z’s book, and no further.
(e) But if A says—“I am not surprised that Z’s book is foolish and indecent, for he is a weak man and a libertine”. A is not within this exception, in as much as the opinion which he expresses of Z’s character is an opinion not founded on Z’s book.
Seventh Exception.—Censure passed in good faith by person having lawful authority over another.—
It is not defamation in a person having over another any authority, either conferred by law or arising out of a lawful contract made with that other, to pass in good faith any censure on the conduct of that other in matters to which such lawful authority relates.
Illustration
A Judge censuring in good faith the conduct of a witness, or of an officer of the Court; a head of a department censuring in good faith those who are under his orders; a parent censuring in good faith a child in the presence of other children; a school-master, whose authority is derived from a parent, censuring in good faith a pupil in the presence of other pupils; a master censuring a servant in good faith for remissness in service; a banker censur­ing in good faith the cashier of his bank for the conduct of such cashier as such cashier—are within this exception.
Eighth Exception.—Accusation preferred in good faith to autho­rised person.—It is not defamation to prefer in good faith an accusation against any person to any of those who have lawful authority over that person with respect to the subject-matter of accusation. Illustration If A in good faith accuse Z before a Magistrate; if A in good faith complains of the conduct of Z, a servant, to Z’s master; if A in good faith complains of the conduct of Z, and child, to Z’s father—A is within this exception.
Ninth Exception.—Imputation made in good faith by person for protection of his or other’s interests.—
It is not defamation to make an imputation on the character of another provided that the imputation be made in good faith for the protection of the inter­ests of the person making it, or of any other person, or for the public good.
Illustrations
(a) A, a shopkeeper, says to B, who manages his business—“Sell nothing to Z unless he pays you ready money, for I have no opin­ion of his honesty”. A is within the exception, if he has made this imputation on Z in good faith for the protection of his own interests.
(b) A, a Magistrate, in making a report of his own superior offi­cer, casts an imputation on the character of Z. Here, if the imputation is made in good faith, and for the public good, A is within the exception.
Tenth Exception.—Caution intended for good of person to whom conveyed or for public good.—
It is not defamation to convey a caution, in good faith, to one person against another, provided that such caution be intended for the good of the person to whom it is conveyed, or of some person in whom that person is inter­ested, or for the public good.
COMMENTS
Imputation without publication In section 499 the words “makes or publishes any imputation” should be interpreted as words supple­menting to each other. A maker of imputation without publication is not liable to be punished under that section; Bilal Ahmed Kaloo v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1997) 7 Supreme Today 127.

A Handbook for Practitioners and Law Students

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Popular Defamation Cases in India

1997: B V P Rao vs Rata Tata and others

B V P Rao contended that Tata Tea had twisted and suppressed the facts projecting him in a very poor light by alleging that there was no response from him as home secretary in December 1995 for providing security after the Tata Tea received a letter from the Ulfa demanding hundred walkie-talkie sets. Rao, who was then the state power commissioner, claimed damage of Rs 1 crore against the Tata Tea, its managing director R Krishna Kumar and chairman of Tata group of companies Ratan Tata.

2006: R S Lodha vs B K Birla

Auditor R S Lodha, who had claimed that Priyamvada Birla had bequeathed her assets worth thousands of crores to him, sued industrialist B K Birla for damages of Rs 100 crore. He said Birla's statements in the media had tarnished his image. 

2008: Anil Ambani vs Mukesh Ambani

Anil Ambani sued brother Mukesh for damages of Rs 10,000 crore for certain libelous statements by the latter in an interview to New York Times. The American publication and some Indian papers which reproduced this were also made respondents. Case was withdrawn after the truce between brothers a few years later.

2010: Chris Cairns vs Lalit Modi

New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns sued the then IPL chairperson Lalit Modi, in the UK's first Twitter libel case over a defamatory tweet sent in January 2010, in which Modi referred to Cairns' alleged involvement in match-fixing as the reason for barring him from the IPL auction. "The allegation made by Lalit Modi that I have been involved in match fixing is scandalous and wholly untrue. For him to circulate such a falsehood around the world is outrageous," Cairns said in a statement. In 2012, a UK court awarded damages of 90,000 pounds and costs of 1.5 million pounds. Modi had said he would appeal.

2014: Veritas vs Indiabulls

Canadian investment firm Veritas Investment filed a suit of settlement of claim in Ontario against Indiabulls claiming $11 million (Rs 70 crore) in damages for the alleged defamatory announcements and press releases put out by Indiabulls, which led to the closure of its India Research services. Indiabulls won an interim order against the move in Delhi High court. Few months later, it also filed a suit claiming Rs 200 crore damages from Veritas and its analyst Neeraj Monga for submissions made in the Ontario claim.

More case laws

  • Kavita C das vs Arvind Thakur, 2014(1)RCR(Criminal)243
  • Syed Asifuddin & Other V The State Of Andhra Pradesh & Another, 2006 (1) Ald Cri 96
  • Abhinav Gupta V State Of Haryana, 2008 CRLJ 4536
  • National Association of Software and Service Companies v. Ajay Sood & Others, 119 (2005) DLT 596
  • Vyakti Vikas Kendra, India Public Charitable Trust Thr Trustee Mahesh Gupta V Jitender Bagga & Anr., Cs(Os) No.1340/2012
  • Google India Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Visaka Industries Limited Criminal Petition No. 7207 Of 2009, Decided On: 19.04.2011
  • Avnish Bajaj v. State (N.C.T.) of Delhi,(2005)3CompLJ364 (Del)
  • State of Tamil Nadu Vs Suhas Katti, CC No. 4680/2004
  • Tata Sons Limited V Mr. Manu Kishori & Ors., (2001)ILR 1Delhi236
  • B. N Firos V State Of Kerala, AIR2006Ker279
  • Rediff Communication V Cyberbooth &Anr, 1999 (4) BOM CR278
  • Yahoo! Inc. V Akash Arora, 1999 IIAD Delhi 229
  • Satyam Infoway Ltd. V Sifynet Solutions P. Ltd, Appeal (Civil) 3028 Of 2004
  • Times Internet v. M/s Belize Domian Whois Service Ltd & Others. CS(OS) No. 1289/2008
  • Microsoft Corporation V Mr. Kiran & Another, 2007(35)PTC748(Del)
  • SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. V. Jogesh Kwatra
  • Manish Katuria case
  • Karan Girotra V State Bail Appn. 977/2011
  • United States v. Jake Baker, 104 F.3d 1492
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation vs.NRI Film Production Associates (P) LTD. AIR 2003 Karnataka 148
  • State of Maharashtra vs. Dr. Praful B Desai , (AIR 2003 SC 2053)
  • Jagjit singh vs. State of Haryana, (2006) 11 SCC 1)
  • Dharambir vs. Central Bureau of Investigation (148 (2008) DLT 289)
  • Anvar P.V. Vs. P.K. Basheer and Others, (AIR 2015 SC 180)
  • Indian Micro Electronics (P) Ltd. Vs. Chandra Industries and Ors., Crl. L.P. 233/2014,
  • Abdul Rahaman Kunji Vs. The State of West Bengal MANU/WB/0828/2014
  • Ankur Chawla Vs. CBI MANU/DE/2923/2014
  • Jagdeo Singh and Ors. Vs. The State, 2015IIIAD(Delhi)268
  • Tomasa Bruno vs State of UP, (2015)7SCC178
  • Casio India Co. Limited V Ashita Tele Systems Pvt. Limited , 106 (2003) DLT 554
  • India TV Independent News V India Broadcast Live, MIPR 2007 (2) 396
  • Banyan Tree Holding Pvt. Ltd. V Murli Krishnan Reddy, (2008) 38 PTC 288, (Del.)
  • Renaissance Hotel Holdings, Inc V B Vijaya Sai
  • The People of the State of New York V Gaming Corporation, 714 NYS 2d 844
  • American Banana Company V United Fruit Company, 213 U.S. 347, 356
  • Calder v. Jones, (1984) US Supreme Court
  • Zippo Mfg. v. Zippo Dot Com Inc, 952 F.Supp. 1119 (W.D. Pa. 1997)
  • United States v. Thomas, 74 F.3d 701 (6th Cir. 1996)
  • State of Punjab v. Amritsar Beverages Ltd. (2006) 7 SCC 607

Types of Defamation in India

Civil Defamation
In a civil defamation case, a person who is defamed can move either high court or subordinate courts and seek damages in the form of monetary compensation from the accused.
Criminal Defamation
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides an opportunity for the defamed person to file a criminal case against the accused under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC.