Allegation of “Impotent Person” Sufficient to Constitute Offence of Defamation- Bombay High Court

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November 13, 2018

In the case, after matrimonial dispute the wife left the home alongwith her daughter and went to her parent’s home. Later she also filed a petition for divorce and the Family Court in the case inter alia granted interim custody of the daughter to the husband. The wife challenged this order of Family Court and made allegations casting aspersions on the potency and capacity of the husband.

Subsequently, the husband filed criminal case for defamation against the wife.

The High Court of Bombay in the case has succinctly held that the allegation of “impotent person” is prima facie defamatory in nature and made out an offence punishable under Section 500 of IPC. Other observations made by the High Court in the case were:

That the impugned allegation is per se defamatory in character and has been, prima facie, calculated to cause harm or injury to the reputation of the non-applicant. It also gives an impression that apparently it has been made with consciousness about the repercussion that such a statement would have on the life of the non-applicant.

That even if the expression “impotent person” is read in all its contextual setting, in particular, in the context of the birth of the child by adopting a medical procedure on the suggestion of the Gynecologist, still the apparent harm that the expression “impotent person” causes, is not diluted or washed out. This is for the reason that prima facie the word “impotent” when understood in it’s plain and grammatical sense, reflects adversely upon the manhood of a person and has a tendency to invite derisive opinions about such person from others and, therefore, use of such word and its publication as contemplated under Section 499 of IPC would be sufficient to constitute, in a prima facie manner, the offence of defamation punishable under Section 500 of IPC.

The case can be accessed here.