Defamation in Civil Law vs Defamation in Criminal Law

Defamation in Civil Law vs Defamation in Criminal Law

Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code contains the definition of defamation and the conditions that constitute the same, in the case of criminal law. While defamation in civil law comes under the ambit of the law of torts. In simple terms, defamation means the act of tarnishing the image of a person in front of other people; in one form or another.


The section defines defamation as the act of harming the reputation of a person by words that are either speak or write or certain signs or visible representations which can be temporary or permanent.

These acts are either published or made with the intention of harming the person’s reputation; or knowing that the act would harm the reputation of the person. As easy as it may seem prima facie, defamation is not that easy to understand.

One may be surprised to know that these acts are very common in our day-to-day lives yet people know less about them. Therefore, if students need law assignment help to work upon defamation, they can refer to the information given below. 

When you hint to other people that the particular person you are talking about is of questionable character; or make any such remark hinting the same, you are making a defamatory remark; that tends to bring down the reputation of the other person in the eyes of the others. Let us understand the conditions that need to be satisfied for defamation to have occurred; so that the students may effectively get assignment help:

For defamation to occur:    

  • For defamation to occur, words can be spoken or intended to be spoken, signs or visible representations are made.
  • Such acts mentioned above should have been published (publication does not mean printing it; but the exposition of the information in front of the third person or a group of people). For example, A says B is a cheater but only in front of B and himself. In such a case, there is no Defamation in Civil Law as no third party is present. On the contrary, if A does the same in a public place; where there are lots of people listening to him, A is liable for defamation of B.
  • The acts must be done deliberately and voluntarily and with the intention of harming the image of the person concerned. The person defaming must know that his remark would harm the person or should have the reason to believe the same. In cases of civil law, this knowledge can be omitted; and the mere act is sufficient enough to hold the other person liable for the offense.
  • And above all, the remark should tarnish the image of the person and lower his reputation.

When we talk about the publication of a defamatory remark, people may get confused as to; who has to be held liable in such a case, since there are a number of parties involved in the process. For example, A publishes in a newspaper that B forces his signature to crack a deal.

The publishing process involves A who writes the information; X who is the press owner, and Y who is the editor. In this case, all three are liable for defamation of B, A for obvious reasons for giving the remark; X and Y because they had the knowledge that whatever was going to be published would harm the image of B.

Exceptions to the case of Defamation in Civil Law can be publishing:

  • The truth is in the public interest.
  • Affair comment on the discharge of duties by public servants.
  • A lawful censure.
  • The proceedings of the court.
  • Opinion in good faith.
  • A comment on the public performance of an artist.

Now when we understand defamation, we should also know its types:

  • It can be slander when a person says something defamatory against the other person; but since it has been said it is not of a permanent nature and thus constitutes slander.
  • If the above-mentioned remark would have been said in a print manner; which would have made it a permanent one, then it would have constituted a libel.

Once you try to differentiate between the defamation under the ambit of both these laws; you will find a fine line between section 499 of the Indian Penal Code; and the mere damages which compensated for. You must understand these differences in order to get law assignment help.

differences in order to get law assignment help:

  • Defamation in Civil Law has not been codified in India and several other countries; while criminal defamation has been codified under the Indian Penal Code.
  • For civil defamation the charges are unliquidated; that is, not pre-decide but determined at the time the punishment is being agreed upon. In case of criminal defamation, the fines and the punishments pre-decided, for the commission of offenses under that category.
  • Intention does not matter in cases of civil laws; only the offense committed and the wrong done to the other party matters. In cases of criminal law, the most important factor is the mental intention of the person. A person, in order to be liable under criminal defamation, must have a wrongful intention against the other party.
  • In a civil action, truth becomes the defense but in criminal defamation; the offender must prove that his intention was good, plus the publication too done in good faith. Also, the publisher must prove that the statement was true.


Thus, there were a few differences between Defamation in Civil Law and criminal defamation which the students can refer to for assignment help. It must always remembered that different cases offer different exceptions to the rule of law, depending upon the circumstances. But the above-discussed exceptions are the general ones and write after referring to a number of case studies. One may further explore this world of law as per one’s own requirement.

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