Call­ing a man ‘im­po­tent’ is defama­tion: HC

Hus­band Files Case Against Wife

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Vaib­hav.Gan­japure @times­group.com

The Nag­pur bench of Bom­bay high court ruled that call­ing a per­son “im­po­tent” amounts to defama­tion and it ad­versely re­flects his man­hood.

“Prima fa­cie, the word ‘im­po­tent’, when un­der­stood in plain and gram­mat­i­cal sense, re­flects ad­versely upon a per­son’s man­hood and has a ten­dency to in­vite de­ri­sive opin­ions about him from oth­ers. There­fore, its us­age and pub­li­ca­tion, as con­tem­plated un­der Sec­tion 499 (dam­age to rep­u­ta­tion), will be suf­fi­cient to con­sti­tute the of­fence of defama­tion un­der Sec­tion 500 (pun­ish­ment for defama­tion) of IPC,” a sin­gle judge bench of Jus­tice Su­nil Shukre held.

Dis­miss­ing a wife’s ap­pli­ca­tion for dis­charge from crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against her by the hus­band, the HC held that the word con­sti­tuted defama­tion. The rul­ing may help hus­bands fac­ing di­vorce cases, where “im­po­tency” is cited as a rea­son for separation along with dowry, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment.

The judge clar­i­fied that even if the ex­pres­sion “im­po­tent per­son” is read in all its con­tex­tual set­ting, par­tic­u­larly in child­birth by con­sid­er­ing a gy­nae­col­o­gist’s opin­ion, the ap- par­ent harm the ex­pres­sion causes is not di­luted. Re­la­tions be­tween the cou­ple with a daugh­ter got strained af­ter the wife moved out on Novem­ber 21, 2016. She filed for di­vorce in a fam­ily court, which granted the daugh­ter’s in­terim cus­tody to the fa­ther. She chal­lenged it in HC and raised as­per­sions on the hus­band’s po­tency and ca­pac­ity to en­gage in a phys­i­cal re­la­tion­ship.

Dis­turbed, the man filed for defama­tion and of­fences un­der IPC Sec­tions 500 and 506 (crim­i­nal in­tim­i­da­tion) against the wife and in-laws. Sub­se­quently, the ju­di­cial mag­is­trate first class in­sti­tuted an in­quiry and or­dered charges against the wife, which she chal­lenged in HC.

The wife con­tended she wanted to avoid writ­ing about im­po­tency in her plea, but his con­duct com­pelled her to write that their child was born by a med­i­cal ovu­la­tion pe­riod tech­nique, as sug­gested by the gy­nae­col­o­gist.

Jus­tice Shukre ob­served that she had threat­ened to harm her hus­band’s rep­u­ta­tion if he did not fol­low her in­struc­tions. “Read­ing her al­le­ga­tions with­out adding/sub­tract­ing any­thing, one gets an im­pres­sion it’s defam­a­tory and has been, prima fa­cie, cal­cu­lated to cause harm or in­jury to the hus­band’s rep­u­ta­tion.,” the judge said.

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