Firstly, we have to understand both the terms i.e. slander and libel. Accordingly, the terms slander and libel are somewhere confusing. These both are similar to each other because they both fall into the same area of Law against the statements which are false and harms any person’s reputation.
These term slander and libel are types of defamatory statements. Slander is that type of defamatory statement which is in the oral form whereas libel is in the written form.
Let’s further understand the term defamation.
WHAT IS DEFAMATION?
It comes under Chapter XXI, Section 499 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860. Defamation is that area of Law that provides a civil remedy to everyone when words end up causing harm to anyone’s reputation or their livelihood. It is explained the type of balance between one people’s right to freedom of speech and another’s right to protect their reputation.
Meaning: It is the statement which injuries someone’s reputation. It is the type of activity in which a person makes false statements to make a bad opinion against another person. Defamation is done by words, written, spoken, or other visible representation. The person whose reputation has been damaged by the false allegations can bring a defamation lawsuit.
Punishment is defined under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which says that whoever defames another person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.
HISTORY BEHIND DEFAMATION
As accordingly, there is a landmark case related to it i.e. CASE OF NEW YORK TIMES V. SULLIVAN, THE U.S. 1964
In this case, the Supreme Court held that any defamatory statements were protected by the First Amendment. The case involved said a critical or unfair thing about a public figure i.e. a politician. The Court pointed to “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” The Court said that mistakes can be made but only if those mistakes are made honestly. The court made a rule that public officials could sue for statements made about their public conduct only if the statements were made with “actual malice”.
TYPES OF DEFAMATION
Mainly there are two types of defamation. One is slander and another is the label. Libel is done through text or graphics and therefore it is permanent. Thus, we can say that it stays for a long time. Whereas defamation can also be done through slander. But slander is considered non-permanent.
- Slander: A slander is similar to libel but the difference is that it is a spoken false statement that is made by any person against another person. It is considered more temporary than libel because it involves speech, not in written form. Somewhere everyone knows that spoken words are typically broadcasted that’s why libel is the one that reaches a large audience. The statement made under slander must be presented as a fact, not as an opinion.
- Libel: A libel is a false statement that had been given through pictures, writing, and through cartoons and so on to defame another person’s reputation. These false statements can also be made through the way of magazines, newspapers, and outlets or also through the social media platform.
ELEMENTS THAT CONSTITUTES SLANDER AND LIBEL
For both libel and slander four elements are needed:
- Defendant made a false statement to the plaintiff
- Defendant made a false statement to the third party
- For publishing a statement, the publisher have to act negligently
- The plaintiff must be suffered from damages or harm.
But if the plaintiff is any public figure, like a politician then he/she must have to prove the defendant acted with actual malice (i.e. the public officer may recover damages in lawsuits).
The defenses against a claim of defamation are given below:
- Opinion statement
- True statements
- No injury
Examples: Here are some of the examples from which slander and libel can be understood easily:
- Spreading false rumors that a person has an STD, which leads a person which is avoided by others.
- Relate to someone that they are cheating on their spouse which leads to destroying their person’s life.
- Reporting a doctor that he has a fake diploma on his wall, lead to down their reputations.
Lastly, we understood that defamation is a type of tort which constitutes slander or libel which results in an injury to one’s reputation. It is an act of harming the reputation of another by making a false statement to a third person. That’s why the law of defamation has been made is to protect people’s reputations from unfair attacks. Defamation law allows people to sue those who say or publish a false and malicious comment.