Saturday, 4 July 2020

What is single publication rule for filing suit against defamatory material on the internet/facebook page?

In Khawar Butt (supra) this Court dealing with the period of limitation for filing a suit against defamatory material on the internet/facebook page held that the single publication rule was more pragmatic and appropriate. It was held:

"14. I first proceed on to determine the legal issue: Whether, the leaving of the allegedly defamatory material on the internet/facebook page gives rise to a fresh cause of action every moment the said offending material is so left on the webpage-which can be viewed by others at any time, or whether the cause of action arises only when the offending material is first posted on the webpage/internet.

38. I am of the view that the Single Publication Rule is more appropriate and pragmatic to apply, rather the Multiple Publication Rule. I find the reasoning adopted by the American Courts in this regard to be more appealing than the one adopted by the English Courts, prior to the amendment of the law by the introduction of the Defamation Act, 2013. It is the policy of the law of limitation to bar the remedy beyond the prescribed period. That legislative policy would stand defeated if the mere continued residing of the defamatory material or article on the website were to give a continuous cause of action to the plaintiff to sue for defamation/libel. Of course, if there is re-publication resorted to by the defendant-with a view to reach the different or larger section of the public in respect of the defamatory article or material, it would give rise to a fresh cause of action.

39. The alleged libelous posting on Facebook, as averred in the plaint, was posted on around 26.10.2008, 27.10.2008 and even the booklet containing the allegedly defamatory material concerning the plaintiff is said to have been circulated around 25.12.2008. In view of the same, the limitation period for the suit expired on 25.12.2009.

40. Since the suit to claim damages for libel has not been filed within the period of limitation of one year from the date when the cause of action arose, i.e. when the libel was published, the said claim is barred by limitation."

CS (OS) 21/2017

Decided On: 27.05.2020

 Ajai Agarwal Vs.  IBNI8 Media & Software Limited and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Mukta Gupta, J.

Citation: MANU/DE/1113/2020
Read full judgment here: Click here
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