This paper provides an overview of defamation and its remedies and defences in Bangladesh. Before getting into that discussion, it is important to have a general idea of what amounts to defamation and the types of defamation.
What is Defamation?
As per Section 499 of the Penal Code of Bangladesh¸ 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 to defame that person.
Types of defamation
There are mainly 2 types of defamation
A malicious defamation expressed either in writing or printing that tends to either blacken the memory of one who is dead or the representation of one who is alive and expose him to public hatred, contempt or ridicule. The elements of a libel are:
- of a false statement
- expressed in writing, printing or in some other permanent form
- tending to harm the reputation of another.
A verbal statement, false and defamatory and tending to affect one’s good name and reputation. The elements of a slander are:
- That the statement complained of is false,
- and that some special damage to the plaintiff has resulted from it.
Defamation as criminal offence
Unlike various countries, defamation in Bangladesh is considered to be a criminal offence and not a civil wrong. Moreover, in the criminal law of defamation, there is no distinction between spoken and written words, provided that the requirements under Section 499 of the Penal Code of Bangladesh above are satisfied. However, since it is a criminal offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable that the defendant has committed defamation.
Defenses for defamation
There are 10 defenses to the offence of defamation:
1. It is not defamation to make statements about anything which is true concerning any person, if such statement is made for the public good.
2. 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.
3. It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of any person touching any public question.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. It is not defamation in a person having authority over another, to pass in good faith any censure on the conduct of that other in matters to which such authority relates.
8. 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.
9. It is not defamation to make a comment on the character of another, provided that such comment is made in good faith for protecting the interest of the person making it, or of any other person, or for the public good.
10. It is not defamation to convey a caution, in good faith, to one person against another.
Punishment for defamation
Whoever commits defamation shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend up to 2 years and fine.
Defamation practice at CLP
The Barristers, Advocates, and lawyers at CLP Law chamber in Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh are highly experienced at assisting clients in dealing with defamation and every aspects surrounding defamation. For queries or legal assistance, please reach us at:
Phone: +8801700920980 | +8801947470606
Address: House 39, Road 126 (3rd Floor) Islam Mansion, Gulshan 1, Dhaka.