The criminal offence of defamation under Section 499 Indian Penal Code is committed when a person makes a defamatory imputation which, as explained in Mohd. Abdulla Khan v. Prakash K., (2018) 1 SCC 615, is as under:
“To constitute an offence of defamation it requires a person to make some imputation concerning other person;
- Such imputation must be made either
- With intention, or
- Knowledge, or
- Having a reason to believe
that such an imputation will the reputation of the person against whom the imputation is made.
- Imputation could be, by
- Words, either spoken or written, or
- By making signs, or
- Visible representations
- Imputation could be either made or published.
The difference between making of an imputation and publishing the same is:
If ‘X’ tells ‘Y’ that ‘Y’ is a criminal–‘X’ makes an imputation. If ‘X’ tells ‘Z’ that ‘Y’ is a criminal—‘X’ publishes the imputation.
The essence of publication in the context of Section 499 is the communication of defamatory imputation to persons other than the persons against whom the imputation is made. A publication, on the other hand, is made when the imputation is communicated to persons other than the persons about whom the defamatory imputation is conveyed. A person, who makes the defamatory imputation, could also publish the imputation and thus could be the maker and the publisher of a defamatory imputation. On the other hand, a person may be liable though he may not have made the statement but he publishes it. Google India Private Ltd. v. Visaka Industries, (2020) 4 SCC 162.