Priya Ramani (journalist) filled allegations of sexual harassments against the then Union Minister MJ Akbar, for sexually harassing her during a job interview. In return MJ Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against her in Delhi court. In the background of this case, let’s understand what is criminal defamation?
Defamation is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation. Any defamation can be challenged in court but within a prescribed limit.
IPC section 44, speaks about “Injury,” the word “injury” denotes any harm whatever illegally caused to any person, in body, mind, reputation or property, the violation of reputation is called defamation. Defamation can be civil defamation and criminal defamation. Civil defamation is when person has filled a case, that is negatively affecting the reputation of related person in society, he could ask for the compensation or damages. The person who tried to breach the reputation of any person will pay for compensations. This comes under “Law of thoughts,” provides the judgement on the basis of precedence of court.
A civil case has to follow The Limitation Act, 1963, that prescribes a particular time period during which a right can be enforced in court of law, ordinarily this limitation act is applicable in civil cases such as property disputes, violation of contraction or tort which is not going against society or state but is an individual dispute. Law will only assist those who are vigilant and aware of rights and approached court within the time limit. I am providing time limit of some cases according to law:
- 3 years for a suit relating to accounts, contracts, declarations, decrees, suits relating to movable property, recovery of law suit under a contract etc.
- 12 years for suits relating to possession of immovable property and 30 years for mortgaged property
- One year for suit relating to torts
- 3 years for compensation in certain cases
- 30 to 90 days in case of appeals under Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code.
IPC section 499 is related to 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. For eg- If person writes a letter personally, person feels offended but he/she can’t filled defamation. However, a criminal defamation, can be filled when the letter is open in public forum by any mean, and harming the reputation of person or its family or its company.
Criminal cases, which are against the society or state such as person has committed a heinous crime of murder or rape. For criminal cases there is limitation prescribes in CrPc acts, but there is an exception if after 10 years person got an new evidence then only the case could be reopened or registered or accepted by the court. But the laws are little different for rape cases as they most happened and less reported…..
- In rape cases women also have right to put there grievance before any platform of her choice even decade after the incident.
- The women’s right to speak up about her violation which is not restricted by the passage of time.
- Right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of the rights of life and dignity as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution in such a case, balance is required. When right to life hold the primary position, right to reputation become secondary. By saying this Delhi Court abide by the spirit of “Vishakha Guidelines” by upholding the the right to violence free and safe work place.
When the court of law approved defamation case, section 500 of IPC comes to picture and person can be put behind the bars for up to 2 years with or without fine, if found guilty. These criminal defamation cases could be compoundable in nature, means when compromise between the the victim and offender can be established and it is less serious in nature. If it happens, the victim could drop the cases against the offender, but it should be by bonafide act not forced intent.
- Violated right to freedom of speech and expression, and also violate the freedom of press. For example, press has found out something against any famous person which is against the society, and can also harm the reputation of related person. It is required to be published, but that famous personality can fill a case against him/her. (press wanted it to be completely removed)
Freedom of speech is important but at the same time the reputation of person is also important, we need to maintain a balance between freedom of speech and reputation.
(Pictures from google)