Written by: Tanvi Mishra (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
Defamation is given under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It clearly states that if anyone harms or tries to harm the reputation of a person either by words, signs or visual representation, then he is said to have committed defamation which is punishable by law. The person causing defamation is liable to be punished with imprisonment extending to two year, or with fine, or both. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule like truth or statement made in good faith etc.
Now, here in the present case a film critic, Kamaal R Khan was continuously publishing such comments on the Bollywood actor Salman Khan, his family and associates which were defamatory in nature. The city Civil Court of Mumbai provided ad-interim relief to the actor by restraining Kamaal R Khan from publishing such content till the final judgement is passed by the court.
Though we all have right to freedom of speech and expression under article 19 enshrined in the Indian Constitution but according to the court, the critic has exceeded his right and caused irreparable harm to the reputation of the actor.
The defendant posted videos on YouTube and there was a series of tweets by him giving defamatory statements. In one of the videos he reviewed the new film of Salman khan titled “Radhe”. The footage had approx 1, 85,126 views in only two days. The court made it clear that all the tweets and videos were not just a criticism of the movie. The videos were with the intent to portray Salam Khan as a cheater, criminal and a person having no dignity left.
Not only is this, but the defendant made allegations through his tweets stating that the registered trademark of Salman khan i.e. “being human” a fraud. According to the Court, this statement was made on the basis of unfound information. There is no justification with the defendant as to why this point was brought up and what the proof against the trademark is.
The Court held that the statements are prima facie libelous and actionable. The Court quoted, “Reputation is not only a salt of life but, the purest treasure and the most precious perfume of life.”
According to the Court, it was observed that the reputation of a person is of immense importance to him. Just as our body needs safety, in a similar way our reputation should also not be harmed due to any false defamatory statements. Also, for some people their reputation and dignity is even more important than their life. It is sad but the truth that many people even commit suicide, they prefer ending their lives when they feel that their reputation is somewhere harmed.
The plaintiffs, Salman Khan and Salman Khan ventures, also prayed the court to ask Kamaal R Khan to remove all the defamatory content and the allegations made by him. But, the Court refused saying that the defendants have not yet filed their statement and in order to provide such reliefs, proof is required.