This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Defamation”. The topic “Defamation” has relevance in the “Indian Polity” section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

Fundamental Rights, Criminal Defamation

For Mains:

GS2: Indian Constitution and Issues related to it. 

Why in the news?

The Gujarat High Court’s recent ruling on Rahul Gandhi’s criminal revision petition has generated significant inquiries regarding the domains of defamation, disqualification, and electoral representation legislation.


Freedom of Speech and Defamation :

  • Under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution, defamation is recognized as an exception to free speech, as validated by Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 
  • There are two types of defamation in India: civil defamation and criminal defamation. 
    • Civil defamation is a tort, which means that it is a wrong that can be remedied by a civil lawsuit. 
    • Criminal defamation is a crime, which means that it can be punished by the government. Maximum punishment for criminal defamation is two years. 
  • Criminal defamation is committed when a person makes an imputation with the intention of harming the reputation of another person, or with reason to believe that it will harm their reputation. The actual harm inflicted or suffering caused is not a condition for criminal defamation, as intention or knowledge is sufficient.
  • Mr. Gandhi’s comment was deemed defamatory under Section 499, which includes imputations regarding “a company or an association or collection of persons as such.” 
  • The Magistrate Court held individuals with the surname Modi as an identifiable class, resulting in the accused being pronounced guilty with the maximum possible sentence.


Precedents on Defamation:

  • Previous judgments have established criteria for determining a “collection of persons.” 


Year Case Summary
1965 Sahib Singh Mehra v. State of Uttar Pradesh The Supreme Court established identifiability and definitiveness as criteria for a “collection of persons.” It ruled that public prosecutors and assistant public prosecutors at Aligarh constitute a definite and identifiable category.
1967 Tek Chand Gupta v. R. K. Karanjia The Allahabad High Court stated that the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), with its own constitution, is an association or collection of persons that is not indefinite and unidentifiable.
1972 G. Narasimhan v. T. V. Chokkappa The Supreme Court quashed complaints against office bearers of certain newspapers, including The Hindu, regarding defamatory newspaper reports on a conference organized by the Dravida Kazhagam in 1971. The court ruled that the conference was not a determinate and identifiable body.


Related Constitutional Provisions:

    • Article 19(a) states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression
      • Reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right can be enforced to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of India, ensure state security,friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense.
  • Article 102 specifies the disqualifications for individuals aspiring to become members of either House of Parliament. These disqualifications include:
    • Holding any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State.
    • Being declared of unsound mind by a competent court.
    • Being an undischarged insolvent.
    • Not being a citizen of India or voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of a foreign State, or having any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State.
    • Being disqualified by any law enacted by Parliament.


Considering these precedents, the apex court will determine whether individuals with the surname Modi can be classified as an identifiable or definite class, constituting a “group of persons.” It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court, employing its powers under Article 136, will grant indulgence to stay the conviction in this specific case to ensure substantive justice.



On Rahul Gandhi’s conviction  – The Hindu

Yojna daily current affairs eng med 19th July 2023


Q1. With reference to defamation laws in India, consider the following statements: 

  1. Under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, defamation is recognized as an exception to free speech.
  2. Civil defamation is a tort, which means that it is a wrong that can be remedied by a civil lawsuit. 
  3. Maximum punishment for criminal defamation is six years.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only 

(d) None 

Answer: (c) 


Q2. Consider the following:

  1. Interest of general public
  2. Sovereignty and integrity of India
  3. Protection of scheduled tribes
  4. Incitement to an offense
  5. Morality
  6. Public health 

How many of the abovementioned are exceptions to the freedom of speech and expression in the Constitution of India?

(a) Only two

(b) Only three

(c) Only five

(d) All Six

Answer: (b)

Q3. Discuss the constitutional provisions related to freedom of speech, defamation, and disqualification for electoral representation in India. 

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