Cyber defamation refers to the act of defaming or damaging the reputation of an individual or an entity through online platforms such as social media, websites, forums, or emails. In India, cyber defamation is governed by both the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act), along with subsequent amendments.

Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), defamation is a criminal offense. Section 499 of the IPC defines defamation as the act of making or publishing any statement that harms the reputation of a person, with the intention to harm or with knowledge or belief that it will cause harm. Section 500 of the IPC prescribes the punishment for defamation, which can include imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both.

In the context of cyber defamation, the Information Technology Act, 2000, supplemented by the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, provides additional provisions. Section 66A of the IT Act, which previously criminalized offensive or menacing communication sent through electronic means, including defamation, was struck down by the Supreme Court of India in 2015 as it was deemed to be vague and violated the right to freedom of speech and expression.

However, other provisions of the IT Act remain applicable to cyber defamation cases. For instance:

  1. Section 66C: This provision deals with identity theft and penalizes the use of someone else’s identity for impersonation, including for the purpose of defamation.
  2. Section 66D: This provision covers cheating by impersonation using computer resources, including creating a fake online profile or impersonating another person with the intention to defame.
  3. Section 67: This provision criminalizes the publishing, transmitting, or displaying of any obscene or sexually explicit content online, which may also be relevant in some cases of cyber defamation.

It’s worth noting that defamation cases, whether online or offline, require the affected party to prove that the defamatory statement was false, caused harm to their reputation, and was made or published with the intention to harm or with knowledge or belief that it would cause harm.

If someone becomes a victim of cyber defamation, they can file a complaint with the cybercrime cell of their local police station or with the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) of the concerned state or region. Legal recourse may involve initiating a criminal case or pursuing civil remedies through a defamation lawsuit.

Leave a Reply

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard