Calling a man ‘impotent’ is defamation: HC
Husband Files Case Against Wife
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.