Law on Cyber Defamation in India
n India, Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code primarily governs the law on defamation, however, it is pertinent to note that the law has been extended to “electronic documents”. Section 469 of the IPC (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) has been amended by the Information Technology Act, 2000 to include ‘electronic record forged’ and now reads as a whole as – whoever commits forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged shall harm the reputation of any party, or knowing that it is likely to be used for that purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 66A of Information & Technology Act 2000 (IT Act), was quashed by the Supreme Court of India in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, due to ambiguity in the definition of the word ‘offensive’ in the Section. The section stated that sending any offensive message to a computer or any other communication device would be an offense. Such unfettered power, under section 66A, was misused by the Government in curtailing and suppressing people’s freedom of speech and expression and hence repealed.