Paragraph: The term “defamation” is an all-encompassing term that covers any statement that hurts someone's reputation, also called defamation of character. If the statement is made in writing and published, the defamation is called “libel‟. If the hurtful statement is spoken, the statement is “slander‟. Defamation is considered to be a civil wrong or a tort. A person that has suffered a defamatory statement may sue the person that made the statement under defamation law, which would be called a defamation case. The strength of the case will also depend on the measures taken by the defendant to verify the facts .However, once the statements are proved to be true, there is no ground to make a defamation case.
One day, Aditya Kaithwas, a middle-aged government servant, left home after dinner for a drive to escape the oppressive summer heat. On his way back to his home around 9:30 p.m., some people suddenly stepped out on the path of his jeep. Although he applied the brakes of his jeep, he was unable to avoid them, and his jeep knocked down three of them. A police constable, Shrey, on the scene reported that Aditya’s breath smelled of alcohol. Aditya was accordingly charged under the Indian Penal Code for rash and negligent driving. It was also covered by a local news channel and the same news with the headline “Drunk man runs his vehicle over three while singing lewd songs”.
During the trial, the neighbourhood watchman, Lakshya, testified that Aditya was driving at an ordinary speed and exercising adequate care. Furthermore, the medical evidence confirmed that even though Aditya had smelled of alcohol, his pupils reacted to light, his speech was coherent, he was well behaved, and he could walk in a straight line. The police doctor testified that Aditya had not been acting under the influence of alcohol. Aditya attributed the smell of alcohol to “Peete jaao‟, a health tonic with 17% alcohol content. The court set him free. He, later on, sued Shrey, Yasir, the editor of the newspaper, as well as Abhyast, the head of the news Channel, for the tort of defamation and demanded a compensation of 15,00,000 from them.
Q. During the hearing of the case, it was discovered that the newspaper had not only printed the article with a very catchy and false headline, but had also made a lot of changes to the original facts of the case, in order to make the article more appealing and interesting to the reader. On being confronted, the newspaper cited Article 19 of the Constitution which provided that “the newspapers are free to circulate and publish whatever they believed to be true.” On this basis, decide: