India has now become a digital world, on the hand where digital working has helped the individuals to digitalize their works but on the other hand it gave a new face to crime which implements different ways to commit crime in the world wide. Cyber crime is one of the most dangerous weapon to attempt the crime on internet. It hampers the individual’s identity as well as highlights them on the internet which takes place as the form of defamation.
WHAT IS CYBER DEFAMATION?
Defamation means giving an “injury to the reputation of a person” resulting from a statement which is false. If anyone damages someone’s reputation by the way of ‘Slander’ or ‘Libel’ one can sue for defamation. The term ‘Slander’ means “the crime of damaging someone’s reputation by false spoken statement”, while ‘Libel’ is an “false published or written statement by damaging someone’s reputation”.
The term defamation is used in the section 499 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Cyber defamation is also known as internet defamation or online defamation in the world of internet and its users. Cyber defamation is a new concept but it virtually defames a person through new medium. The medium of defaming the individual’s identity is through the help of computers via internet. If any individual posts or publishes some false statement about the other individual through internet or emails the individual having the defamatory statement with the intention to defame the other about whom the statement has been made would amount to cyber defamation. The defamation made to the individual through internet is widespread and its irreplaceable as the information are in public, to which everyone can access. Cyber defamation affects the welfare of the community as whole. Cyber defamation is amonsgt one of the most committed crime. Cyber crimes are neither bound by time nor by the boundaries which means person sitting in one corner can cause damage at any time to the person sitting in another corner of the world.
STATUTORY PROVISIONS ON CYBER DEFAMATION-
INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 deals with the provisions of cyber defamation-
- Section 499 of IPC-
It says that 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 excepted, to defame that person. The offence of defamation is punishable under Section 500 of IPC with a simple imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.
The law of defamation under Section 499 got extended to “Speech” and “Documents” in electronic form with the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- Section 469 of IPC-
It says that whoever commits forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged shall harm the reputation of any party, or knowing that it is likely to be used for that purpose shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The phrase “intending that the document forged” under Section 469 was replaced by the phrase “intending that the document or electronic record forged” vide the Information and Technology Act, 2000.
- Section 503 of IPC-
It defines the offense of criminal intimidation by use of use of emails and other electronic means of communication for threatening or intimidating any person or his property or reputation.
Section 503 says that whoever, threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threats, commits criminal intimidation.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000-
This act is specifically made for the rising cyber-crime in the country-
Section 66A of the IT Act says that any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device: –
Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or any content 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, 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.
JUDICIAL RESPONSE TO CYBER DEFAMATION-
The first case on Cyber Defamation in SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Jogesh Kwatra, wherein a disgruntled employee sent derogatory, defamatory, vulgar and abusive emails to the company’s fellow employers and to its subsidiaries all over the world with an intent to defame the company along with its managing director, the High Court of Delhi granted ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendant from defaming the Plaintiff in both the physical and in the cyber space.
Also, in the case of Kalandi Charan Lenka v. State of Odisha, the Petitioner was stalked online and a fake account was created in her name. Additionally, obscene messages were sent to the friends by the culprit with an intention to defame the Petitioner. The High Court of Odisha held that the said act of the accused falls under the offence of cyber defamation and the accused is liable for his offences of defamation through the means of fake obscene images and texts.
LODGING AN COMPLAINT-
If a person has been defamed in a cyber space, he can make a complaint to the Cyber Crime investigation cell. It is a unit of Crime Investigation Department (CID).A person can file a complaint in any Cyber-crime Investigation Cell against online defamation. CCI cells deal with crimes relating to electronic devices, computers, computer networks, computer resources and the Internet. It also has power to look into other high-tech crimes.
Cyber space provides the opportunity to the individuals to express their views in world wide basis. But some of the individuals misuse it by defaming the person only because of their personal grudges or issues. And that is why they enter into a crime and hence gets trapped in front of corps and court. Every individual must have their own limits in cyber space. One must refrain themselves while making any abusive comments and views about someone’s identity. The individuals must follow some basic etiquette to maintain sanity in the cyber space.