20 February , 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • Defamation law - Polity & Governance
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization - International Relations
  • Sambhar lake - (Environment)
  • Question for the day - (Economy)

Prelims Quiz


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    UPSC Current Affairs: A verdict that has ended a long silence, Defamation as crime | Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity | Mains – GS Paper II –

    Sub Theme: Defamation | Civil and criminal act in defamation | UPSC


    • The acquittal of Priya Ramani, a journalist, on a complaint of criminal defamation by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar has come as a vindication to a long line of women who have not been taken seriously earlier when they have alleged sexual harassment.
    • Many an allegation has often remained unvoiced for fear of ridicule, shaming, or on grounds of sheer financial necessity.

    So this has again brought the limelight on defamation issue.

    • What is defamation all about?
    • Defamation is an exception to the Right to Freedom of Speech
    • Why is defamation a crime?
    • Why defamation should remain a criminal offence?

    What is defamation all about?

    Defamation is the general term for a legal claim involving injury to one's reputation caused by a false statement of fact and includes both libel (defamation in written or fixed form) and slander (spoken defamation). The crux of a defamation claim is falsity. Truthful statements that harm another's reputation will not create liability for defamation (although they may open you up to other forms of liability if the information you publish is of a personal or highly private nature).

    Defamation refers to the act of publication of defamatory content that lowers the reputation of an individual or an entity when observed through the perspective of an ordinary man. If defamation occurs in spoken words or gestures (or other such transitory form) then it is termed as slander and the same if in written or printed form is libel. Defamation in India is both a civil and a criminal offence.

    Defamation is an exception to the Right to Freedom of Speech

    • Article 19 of the Constitution grants various freedoms to its citizens. However, Article 19(2) has imposed reasonable exemption to freedom of speech and expression granted under Article 19(1) (a). Contempt of court, defamation and incitement to an offence are some exceptions.

    Legal Provisions

    • Sections 499 and 500 OF IPC
      • Sections 499 and 500 in the IPC deal with criminal defamation. While the former defines the offence of defamation, the latter defines the punishment for it.
      • Section 499:
        • Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter expected, to defame that person.
      • Section 500:
        • Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

    Why is defamation a crime?

    • Reputation is an asset to each and every one. Any damage to such asset can be legally dealt with. Defamation laws have been enacted to prevent person maliciously using their right to freedom of speech and expression. The Indian law has rightly not made any distinction between libel and slander. Otherwise there could have been chances for committing slander and escaping from the laws that there is no written publication of matter.

    Why defamation should remain a criminal offence?

    Arguments ‘In favor’:

    • Income inequality
      • Defamation should remain a penal offence in India as the defamer may be too poor to compensate the victim in some cases.
    • Anonymity provided by Internet
      • Since there is no mechanism to censor the Internet from within, online defamation could only be adequately countered by retaining defamation as a criminal offence.
    • Article 21
      • Also, criminalization of defamation is part of the state’s “compelling interest” to protect the right to dignity and good reputation of its citizens.
    • Changes have been made from time to time
      • Sections 499 and 500 have 10 exceptions.
      • These exceptions clearly exclude from its ambit any speech that is truthful, made in good faith and/or is for public good.

    Arguments ‘Against’:

    • Against the global trend
      • Many countries worldwide are in favor of treating defamation as a civil wrong, not as a criminal offence.
      • Also, in 2011, the Human Rights Committee of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights called upon states to abolish criminal defamation, noting that it intimidates citizens and makes them shy away from exposing wrongdoing.
    • Misuse by “Influential”
      • The misuse of law as an instrument of harassment is also pervasive in India.
      • Often, the prosecutor’s complaint is taken at face value by courts, which send out routine notices for the appearance of defendants without any preliminary examination whether the offending comments or reports come under one of the exceptions spelt out in Section 499.
      • Thus, the process itself becomes the punishment.
        • Criminal defamation has a pernicious effect on society: for instance, the state uses it as a means to coerce the media and political opponents into adopting self-censorship and unwarranted self-restraint.
        • The law can also be used by groups or sections claiming to have been hurt or insulted and abuse the process by initiating multiple proceedings in different places.
      • Public order concerns taken care by other sections
        • Defamatory acts that may harm public order are covered by Sections 124, 153 and 153A, and so criminal defamation does not serve any overarching public interest. Even though Section 499 provides safeguards by means of exceptions, the threat of criminal prosecution is in itself unreasonable and excessive.


    UPSC Current Affairs:Transatlantic alliance is back says Biden | Page - 13

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations

    Sub Theme: Transatlantic Partnership | NATO | UPSC

    About North Atlantic Treaty Organization

    • NATO is Military alliance of countries from Europe and North America. It provides a link between the ‘Western countries’ of the two continents.
    • NATO membership is open to any other European country which adheres to the principles of NATO and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.

    A NATO decision is the expression of the collective will of all 30 member countries since all decisions are taken by consensus.

    • NATO's core tasks are: Collective defense, Crisis-management & Cooperative security.
    • Principle of ‘Collective Defense’ under which an attack against one or several of NATO members is considered as an attack against all.
    • The principle of collective defense been invoked once - in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001.


    UPSC Current Affairs: New tourist points to be identified at Sambhar | Page 05

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment

    Sub Theme: Sambhar Lake | Environment | UPSC