‘Re­fer­ring to a man as im­po­tent is defam­a­tory’

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTMETRO - Kan­chan Chaud­hari


MUM­BAI : Re­fer­ring to a man as “im­po­tent” re­flects badly on his manhood and prima fa­cie amounts to defama­tion, the Bom­bay high court (HC) said. The HC also re­fused to quash crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings ini­ti­ated against an Andhra Pradesh res­i­dent, filed by her es­tranged hus­band for terming him ‘im­po­tent’ in her di­vorce pe­ti­tion.

Jus­tice SB Shukre said the use of the word ‘im­po­tent’ would be suf­fi­cient to con­sti­tute defama­tion, pun­ish­able un­der sec­tion 500 of the In­dian Pe­nal Code.

The woman had filed a di­vorce pe­ti­tion be­fore a lo­cal court in Ra­jah­mundry, Andhra Pradesh. Af­ter an in­terim cus­tody or­der of the fam­ily court, she ap­proached the HC, stat­ing her es­tranged hus­band is im­po­tent and their child was born through med­i­cal ovu­la­tion pe­riod tech­nique. Her hus­band took of­fence to the re­marks made in the pe­ti­tion and ap­proached the lo­cal mag­is­trate court at Nagpur, seek­ing pros­e­cu­tion of his wife and her rel­a­tives un­der defama­tion and crim­i­nal in­tim­i­da­tion. The woman then ap­proached the HC last year.

She ar­gued be­fore HC that her in­ten­tion was not to de­fame her hus­band and the term can­not be read in iso­la­tion. She claimed she had used the term due to her hus­band’s med­i­cal con­di­tion, be­cause of which it was im­pos­si­ble for her to con­ceive.

Jus­tice Shukre, how­ever, said read­ing the woman’s state­ment the way it is, one gets an im­pres­sion it is per se defam­a­tory in char­ac­ter.

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