Did you know that sending an office email with a mean caricature of someone is defamation in the form of libel?

What are the Forms of Defamation?

Last updated on Jun 8, 2022

Saying or writing something harmful to a person’s reputation is 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.

There can be two forms of defamation – slander and libel.


Slander involves something that is spoken, with the intention to harm someone’s reputation, and which can be heard. It is in verbal form. For example, Rahul says bad things about Seema’s character, which results in Seema losing her job. Rahul has committed the crime of defamation through slander.


Libel involves something that is visually represented, with the intention to harm someone’s reputation, and which can be seen. So, anything that can be written, printed or something on an effigy, movie or statue can be libel. If Rahul writes something about Seema in a magazine in a derogatory manner, then Rahul has committed the crime of defamation through libel.

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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.

Are Reviews/Critiques Excluded from Defamation?

If a review or critique of any public material or performance was made in good faith, then it is not considered an act of defamation.

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.