Section 8, Defamation Act 2013- Fair or Unfair?
Amity Law School, Delhi (GGSIP University)
The following paper precisely deals with the section 8 of the Defamation Act 2013 which replaced the multiple publication rule to single publication rule. The first part of the paper deals with the History of the introduction of the Defamation Act 2013. The second part of the paper gives a brief introduction of the different section which have been amended in the Defamation Act 2013. For example, Section 2 to 7 of the Act has introduced many defences in relation to truth, honest opinion, publication for the matters of public interest and a defence for the operators of the website. Similarly, section 11 of the Act has been amended and it has abolished the process of the jury trial which was followed earlier. Lastly, section 8 of the Act which has often been described as a “single publication rule” provides for one- year limitation period to preclude actions for multiple publications of the same material. The third part of the paper gives a brief introduction as to what the single publication rule is and how it has replaced the multiple publication rule which was followed earlier. Earlier every time a user used to click a hit on the webpage it was considered to be a new publication and he could be punished accordingly. So, practically every hit on a webpage gave rise to a new cause of action and the limitation period followed subsequently. Hence there was an indefinite liability for the online publishers. However now, after the introduction of the Defamation Act 2013(section 8), multiple publication rule has been replaced by the single publication rule which has ended the indefinite liability for the internet users. Now, if a person publishes a statement to the public and subsequently publishes the same then the subsequent publication will not be considered as a new publication and hence the limitation period of suing is 1 year from the date of the old publication. This has given benefit to the book publishers who will not be liable for the contents of their back catalogue. This has also given a benefit to the newspaper and journalist. The fourth part of the paper deals with the challenges which single publication rule has failed to answer. The fifth part deals with the conclusion as whether the introduction of section 8 of the Defamation Act 2013 has been fair or not.