As long as the approachability of the internet to the common man has become convenient to access information and technology, it has made human interaction much easier than ever before. However, escalating in expediencies may lead to an equal increase in ramifications. Limiting the barricades in freedom of expression over the internet can exercise defaming of a person like making a false statement about an entity such imputations can outrageously harm the goodwill and reputation which leads to cyber defamation. The right to freedom of speech and expression is not absolute it has also some reasonable restrictions on the grounds of defamation, decency, morality, privacy, public interest, etc. This article basically hovers upon the various aspects of curbing the menace of defamation in cyberspace.
- Prerequisites Of Online Defamation
Defamation is defined under sec. 499 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 ‘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 to defame that person.’
Imputations caused and created through the audio, video, or written text amounts to online defamation. According to sec. 2 (1) (ha) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 states that ‘any cell phones, personal digital assistance or combination of both or any other device used to communicate, send or transmit any text, video, audio or image.’
Shreya Singhal v. Union of India held that online defamation is not now a cognizable and criminal offence under sec. 66 A of IT Act, 2000. Prohibition against the propagation of information by means of computer source intended to cause annoyance, inconvenience, or insult not fall in the category of reasonable restrictions under the right to freedom of speech and expression.[i]
- Essential Conditions Must Be Fulfilled For Defamation
To commit an act that amounts to cyber defamation should be a “defamatory statement” which can be comprehended and referred to be defaming the person or entity, the statement has been published and sort of communicated other than the person defamed. It will be facades the situation where a third person has been made known to the defamatory statement.
The following conditions are:
- Publication of the defamatory sentence, when it comes to the knowledge of a third party.
- It must refer to the plaintiff only.
- It must be defamatory in nature.[ii]
- Constitution’s take on Cyber Defamation
Defamation should not violate article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India provides that the all citizens of India have the right to freedom of speech and expression which also impose certain reasonable restrictions on them under Article 19 (2) of COI which covers intrusion on human dignity and which harms the reputation of an individual in the society. If the statement is true then it will not comes under the clause of reasonable restrictions.
- Conundrums Under Judicial Interpretations
Various problems arising in collecting and disseminating the identity of the person against whom actions should be taken. In ‘Swami Ramdev & Anr. v. Facebook Inc. & Ors.’ it was held that the defamatory content posted against Swami Ramdev should be removed without determining the territorial limits, it was contended that Courts in India have the power to pass injunctions in international jurisdiction.
Cyber defamation can occur in many aspects for resolving the menace what parameters can be applied; still, it has certain limitations present in cyberspace that cannot transcend to.
Curbing the menace of cyber defamation is quite complicated but if the procedures and remedies can be followed timely and appropriately, then justice can be served straightforwardly. First of all lodging, a complaint correctly and timely inappropriate forum and then using the proper technique and forensic procedure should be served. Although remedies available in the online mediums are not well versed as physical space, the complainant cannot produce all the evidence as delivered in physical space. Hence, there is an urgent need for amendments and also intermediaries should post the appropriate content and such content should not be defamatory in nature.[iii]