Are Reviews/Critiques Excluded from Defamation?

Last updated on Jun 8, 2022

Yes, if the review or critique of any public material or performance was made in good faith, then it is not considered an act of defamation. For example, if the author of the material has given permission for it to be reviewed by the public, then anyone making a statement against the same will not be held liable for defamation.

However, while a review or critique of a public material or performance was made in good faith is fine, a personal criticism about the creator that can insult their reputation can still be defamation. For example, it may be okay for you to critique Rushdie’s latest novel as ‘boring and dull’, but you can be punished for saying that “Only a boring and dull novel can be expected out of a nincompoop like Rushdie”.

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What are the Forms of Defamation?

Saying or writing something which is harmful to a person's reputation, is called defamation. It’s against the law to intentionally harm someone’s reputation, cause them to be hated or disgraced through text, image, cartoons, caricatures or effigies.

What is the Punishment for Defamation?

If you say or write something to insult the reputation of a person, group of people or a company, a court can punish you for the crime of defamation. The punishment for defamation, in such cases, can be jail time up to 2 years and/or a fine.

How Can You Prove Defamation?

To prove a defamation case, you have to show that the person defamed you, with published material, and you suffered some injury to your reputation as a result.

What is the Punishment for Printing/Selling Defamatory Material?

Selling or trying to sell printed or engraved material which is defamatory can be punished with jail time of up to 2 years and/or with a fine.

Censorship of Films/Movies

Censorship is when an authority (such as the government) cuts out or stops the release of information. The official stance of the Indian Government is that it does not censor films, it only certifies them.

What does the law say you can/cannot do?

While anything that lowers the authority of the courts can be considered as contempt, there are certain exceptions given in the law. These include innocent publication and distribution of matter, fair and accurate reporting of a judicial proceeding, fair criticism of judicial actions, complaint against presiding officers of subordinate courts and truth.