Defamation And Offences Relating To Documents And Property Marks
- Defamation.– 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 excepted, to defame that person. Explanation 1.- It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased person, if the imputation would harm the reputation of that person if living, and is intended to be hurtful to the fellings of his family or other near relatives. Explanation 2.- It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such. Explanation 3.- An imputation in the form of an alternative or expressed ironically, may amount to defamation. Explanation 4.- No imputation is said to harm a person’ s reputation, unless that imputation directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes it to be believed that the body of that person is in a lothsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgraceful.
- A says-” Z is an honest man; he never stole B’ s watch”, intending to cause it to be believed that Z did steal B’ s watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one of the exceptions.
- A is asked who stole B’ s watch. A points to Z, intending to cause it to be believed that Z stole B’ s watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one of the exceptions.
- A draws a picture of Z running away with B’ s watch, intending it to be believed that Z stole B’ s watch. This is defamation, unless it fall within one of the exceptions. First Exception.- Imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or published.- It is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the imputation should be made or published. Whether or not it is for the public good is a question of fact.
Second Exception.- Public conduct of public servants.- It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of a public servant in the discharge of his public functions, or respecting his character, so far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further. Third Exception.- Conduct of any person touching any public question.- It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of any person touching any public question, and respecting his character, so far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further. Illustration It is not defamation in A to express in good faith any opinion whatever resepting Z’ s conduct in petitioning Government on a public question, in signing a requisition for a meeting on a public question, in presiding or attending at such meeting, in forming or joining any society which invites the public support, in voting or canvassing for a particular candidate for any situation in the efficient discharge of the duties of which the public is interested. Fourth Exception.- Publication of reports of proceedings of courts- It is not defamation to publish a substantially true report of the proceedings of a Court of Justice, or of the result of any such proceedings. Explanation.- A Justice of the Peace or other officer holding an enquiry in open Court preliminary to a trial in a Court of Justice, is a Court within the meaning of the above section. Fifth Exception.- Merits of case decided in Court or conduct of witnesses and others concerned. It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the merits of any case, civil or criminal, which has been decided by a Court of Justice, or respecting the conduct of any person as a party, witness or agent, in any such case, or respecting the character of such person, as far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.
- A says-” I think Z’ s evidence on that trial is so contradictory that he must be stupid or dishonest.” A is within this exception if he says this in good faith, inasmuch as the opinion which he expresses respects Z’ s character as it appears in Z’ s conduct as a witness, and no farther.
- But if A says-” I do not believe what Z asserted at that trial because I know him to be a man without veracity”; A is not within this exception, inasmuch as the opinion which expresses of Z’ s character, is an opinion not founded on Z’ s conduct as a witness. Sixth Exception.- Merits of public performance.- It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion respecting the merits of any performance which its author has submitted to the judgment of the public, or respecting the character of the author so far as his character appears in such performance, and no farther. Explanation.- A performance may be submitted to the judgment of the public expressly or by acts on the part of the author which imply such submission to the judgment of the public.
- A person who publishes a book, submits that book to the judgment of the public.
- A person who makes a speech in public, submits that speech to the judgment of the public.
- An actor or singer who appears on a public stage, submits his acting or singing to the judgment of the public.
- A says of a book published by Z-” Z’ s book is foolish; Z must be a weak man. Z’ s book is indecent; Z must be a man of impure mind.” A is within the exception, if he says this in good faith, inasmuch as the opinion which he expresses of Z respects Z’ s character only so far as it appears in Z’ s book, and no further.
- But if A says-” I am not surprised that Z’ s book is foolish and indecent, for he is a weak man and a libertine.” A is not within this exception, inasmuch as the opinion which he expresses of Z’ s character is an opinion not founded on Z’ s book. Seventh Exception.- Censure passed in good faith by person having lawful authority over another.- It is not defamation in a person having over another any authority, either conferred by law or arising out of a lawful contract made with that other, to pass in good faith any censure on the conduct of that other in matters to which such lawful authority relates. Illustration A Judge censuring in good faith the conduct of a witness, or of an officer of the Court; a head of a department censuring in good faith those who are under his orders; a parent censuring in good faith a child in the presence of other children; a schoolmaster, whose authority is derived from a parent, censuring in good faith a pupil in the presence of other pupils; a master censuring a servant in good faith for remissness in service; a banker censuring in good faith the cashier of his bank for the conduct of such cashier as such cashier- are within this exception. Eighth Exception.- Accusation preferred in good faith to authorised person.- It is not defamation to prefer in good faith an accusation against any person to any of those who have lawful authority over that person with respect to the subject- matter of accusation. Illustration If A in good faith accuses Z before a Magistrate; if A in good faith complains of the conduct of Z, a servant, to Z’ s master; if A in good faith complains of the conduct of Z, a child, to Z’ s father- A is within this exception. Ninth Exception.- Imputation made in good faith by person for protection of his or other’ s interests.- It is not defamation to make an imputation on the character of another provided that the imputation be made in good faith for the protection of the interest of the person making it, or of any other person, or for the public good.
- A, a shopkeeper, says to B, who manages his business-” Sell nothing to Z unless he pays you ready money, for I have no opinion of his honesty.” A is within the exception, if he has made this imputation on Z in good faith for the protection of his own interests.
- A, a Magistrate, in making a report to his own superior officer, casts an imputation on the character of Z. Here, if the imputation is made in good faith, and for the public good, A is within the exception. Tenth Exception.- Caution intended for good of person to whom conveyed or for public good.- It is not defamation to convey a caution, in good faith, to one person against another, provided that such caution be intended for the good of the person to whom it is conveyed, or of some person in whom that person is interested, or for the public good.
Offence relating to Documents
The offence of Forgery is in vogue since the time writing was invented. In Roman Law, it was enacted by the lex cornelia de falsies. In modern English Common law; forgery is the making of a false instrument with intent to deceive.
Under the Indian Penal Code, the law relating to forgery have been laid down in sections 463 to 477-A.
According to English Common law, ‘every instrument which fraudulently purports to be that which it is not’ is forgery. In India, also the authors of the code have adopted the above principle in laying down in section 463 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Thus it is clear that the object of the forgery is normally to cheat, to cause wrongful distribution of property by means of a false document. The main difference between cheating and forgery is that in cheating the deception is oral, whereas in forgery it is in writing. Forgery can thus be described as merely the means to achieve an end; the end being deception.
Statutory Provisions: The offence of Forgery is made of mainly two provisions of the Indian Penal Code i.e. sections 463 and 464.
Section 463 says: ‘Whoever makes any false documents or false electronic record or part of a document or electronic record, with intent to cause damage or injury, to the public or to any person, or to support any claim or title, or to cause any person to part with property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed, commits forgery.
- Thus forgery has to be satisfied with following essential ingredients: firstly the making of a false document or part of it (actus rea) and secondly (mens rea) such making should be with intent to
- cause damage or injury to
- the public; or
- to any person, or
- support any claim or title, or
- cause any person to part with property,m or
- enter into any express or implied contract, or (e) commit fraud or that fraud may be committed.
Section 464 explains about the making of a false documents. Making false documents is the soul of the offence of the forgery. But it is essential that the false document, when made, must either appear on its face to be, or be in fact one, which, if true, would possess some legal validity, or in other words, must be legally capable of effectivating the fraud intended.
The three forms of making false document according to section 464 of IPC are (i) Dishonestly or fraudulently making, signing, sealing, or executing a document with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document was made by the authority of a person by whom the maker knows that it was not made.
- Dishonest, or fraudulent cancellation or alteration of a document in its material part without lawful authority.
- Dishonestly or fraudulently causing another person to execute, or alter a document with the knowledge that the maker thereof does not know the contents of the documents or the nature of the alteration by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication.
Explanation 1 to the section 464 says ‘A man’s signature of his own name may amount to forgery’.
e.g. A signs his own name to a bill of exchange, intending that it may be believed that the bill was drawn by another person of the same name. A has committed forgery.
Explanation 2 says making of a false document in the name of a fictitious person, intending it to be believed that the document was made by a real person, or in the name of a deceased person, intending it to be believed that the document was made by the person in his lifetime, may amount forgery.
e.g. A draws a bill of exchange upon a fictitious person, and fraudulently accepts the bill in the name of such fictitious person with intent to negotiate it. A commits forgery.
Section 476 in The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Counterfeiting device or mark used for authenticating documents other than those described in section 467, or possessing counterfeit marked material.– Whoever counterfeits upon, or in the substance of, any material, any device or mark used for the purpose of authenticating any document other than the documents described in section 467 of this Code, intending that such device or mark shall be used for the purpose of giving the appearance of authenticity to any document then forged or thereafter to be forged on such material, or who with such intent, has in his possession any material upon or in the substance of which any such device or mark has been counterfeited, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
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