Whether Defamatory Statement of Rahul Gandhi Falls Under Exception Categories?

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Persons who make defamatory statements are exempted from punishments if they fall in one of the ten exceptions provided in Section 499

Panchkula (ABC Live): The Surat based Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma on 23/03/2023 convicted Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case for his remarks “why all thieves share the Modi surname”.

It is pertinent to mention that Gandhi made the remarks while addressing a rally in support of Congress's  in year 2019.

The Surat CJM sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail and also imposed a fine of Rs. 15,000 after finding him guilty under Sections 499 (Defamation), 500 (punishment for (punishment for Defamation) IPC.

The ABC Legal Research team on the history of Defamation Law in India refers that the history of Defamation Law in India started in 1837 when Lord Macaulay enacted the Defamation Law in India with sole aim to protect the interest of the British rulers.

As Mr. Gandhi is convicted for Criminal Defamation, wherein simple imprisonment up to two years may be awarded for intention to defame with knowledge it is mandatory to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the act of defamation was done to lower the reputation of complainant.

The ABC Research Team refers an article authored by Rashmi Senthilkumar first published on Legal Service India and republished in the interest on justice for enabling general public to understand the legal aspect of defamation in India.

The Article written by Rashmi Senthil kumar says as under;

Persons who make defamatory statements are exempted from punishments if they fall in one of the ten exceptions provided in Section 499. They are as under;

Attribution of any truth made for public good. Truth is seldom defense unless made for a public good.

Any opinion made in good faith regarding the conduct of a public servant in the discharge of his public functions.

Any opinion made in good faith respecting the conduct of any person which relates to a public question.

Publication of true reports of the proceedings of the Courts or the result of the proceedings is not defamation.

Any opinion made in good faith regarding the merits of any civil or criminal case decided by the Court of Justice, or the conduct of any person as a party, witness or agent to that case and no further.

Opinions made about the merits of any performance which its author has submitted to the judgement of the public, or about the author is not defamation if made in good faith.

Censures passed by persons neither having authority over another either conferred by a law or from a lawful contract in good faith is nor defamation. Censure is formal statement of severe disapproval.

Accusation of offence to any person having lawful authority over the alleged person in good faith is an exception to defamation. Complaints about servants to masters and children to parents are examples to the exception.

Statements made about the character of character is not defamation if it is made in order to protect the interests of the person making it, or any other person, or for the public good.

Cautions conveyed to one person against another are not defamation if it is intended for the good of the conveyed person, or any other, or for public good.

The Trial Court can  punishes Section 500 of the Code for defamation if, it does not fall within the above said exceptions with simple imprisonment which may extend to two years, or fine, or both.

Here question arises whether statement made by Mr. Rahul Gandhi, “Why all thieves share the Modi surname” falls under exception categories as referred above and if yes then second question would be whether Gandhi has pleaded in trial court that his statement covered under exception categories and in case of No, what defence he has taken for his statement that is important to critical analysis the judgment of CJM Surat.

Our Legal Research team secured the copy of judgment passed by CJM Surat and will get documents of trail court and thereafter will publish detailed critical analysis of the judgment and legal options available for Mr. Gandhi in this Legal battle.

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