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Legal Principle: Any Intentional False Communication, Either Written Or Spoken, that Harms a Person'S Reputation; Decreases the Respect, Regard, Or Confidence in Which a Person is Held; Or Induces - Legal Reasoning

MCQ

Apply the legal principles to the facts given below and select the most appropriate answer.
Legal Principle:

  1. Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.
  2. The statement must tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.
  3. A mere vulgar abuse is not defamation.
  4. Sometimes a statement may not be defamatory on the face of it but contain an innuendo, which has a defamatory meaning.
  5. Defamation encompasses both written statements, known as libel, and spoken statements, called slander.
Factual Situation: In May 2017, a memorial commemorating the women of World War II was vandalized during an anti-government demonstration following the General Election. An offensive political slogan was spray-painted across the plinth of the memorial. This act caused public outrage and widespread condemnation. On Twitter, a political writer, Asha Mehta said that she did not have a problem with the vandalism of the memorial building. Chandna reacted to this negatively, suggesting that Asha should be sent to join Terrorist Organization. Asha's comments and Chandna's reactions both received national media coverage. A few days later, Chandna published a tweet asking the question "Scrawled on any war memorials recently?" to Anshika Chauhan, another political activist. Anshika Chauhan responded stating that they had never vandalised any memorial building, and moreover had family members serving in the armed forces. Chandna followed with a second tweet, in which she asked if someone could explain the difference between Mehta (an "irritant") and Anshika Chauhan (whom she described as "social anthrax"). Anshika Chauhan asked for a retra~tion via Twitter and was promptly blocked by Chandna. Anshika Chauhan asked Chandna to make a public apology and claimed compensation for libel alleging that the First Tweet suggested that she had either vandalised a war memorial, which was a criminal act; and the Second Tweet suggested that she approved or condoned that vandalisation. What is the meaning of the Tweets and whether those meanings had defamatory tendency?

Options

  • Both the tweets were defamatory to Anshika Chauhan as the hypothetical ordinary reader can be expected to understand the defamatory tendency of the tweet in the context of the situation.

  • The second tweet was not defamatory as it was not referring directly to Anshika Chauhan. So, she cannot claim compensation.

  • Natural and ordinary meaning of the tweets are not defamatory. So, she cannot claim compensation.

  • First tweet was not defamatory because the natural and ordinary meaning of the statement which is conveyed to a hypothetical ordinary reader is not defamatory.

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Solution

Both the tweets were defamatory to Anshika Chauhan as the hypothetical ordinary reader can be expected to understand the defamatory tendency of the tweet in the context of the situation.

Explanation:

Central Government Act Section 499 in The Indian Penal  Code 499.
Defamation.-Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible repre
sentations, 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, to defame that person.   
In the present scenario Chandana's tweet directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of Anishika and lowers the character of Anishika to a loathsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgraceful.   
Thus in the light of the above-stated arguments and the given guiding principles "Both the tweets were defamatory to Anshika Chauhan as the hypothetical ordinary reader can be expected to understand the defamatory tendency of the tweet in the context of the situation." is correct. ie both the tweets were defamatory to Anshika Chauhan as the hypothetical ordinary reader can be expected to understand the defamatory tendency of the tweet in the context of the situation.   

Concept: Questions Based on Hypothetical Situations (Entrance Exams)
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