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It was also observed that opinions based on disclosed facts do not constitute defamation, no matter how derogatory it is
A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday stayed a single judge order passed last year to take down a video by YouTuber Bearded Chokra, containing allegedly defamatory and disparaging remarks about Parachute Oil.
The interim order was passed after taking on record submissions made for the vlogger that he would modify some content in his video, as he did not want to "quibble" over the issue further.
In this regard, Advocate Abhinvav Chandrachud submitted that certain remarks about the oil smelling like "rotten coconut", comments about the product appearing to have been made from inferior quality coconuts, among other statements, would be deleted from the video.
Further, it was submitted that the statement, "IT’S NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK !!" which was displayed at the beginning of the video would be replaced with "IT'S NOT WORTH THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR."
Subject to carrying out these measures within two weeks, the Division Bench order passed by Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre has now stayed the January 15 single judge order.
In the course of rendering the order, the High Court also observed that the single judge had erred in certain findings concerning "falsehoods" in the video. The Bench added that the there was only one "trivial error" part of the video. However, the same is not likely to mislead the viewer, it was opined.
The Court also made observations regarding when a statement would constitute defamation. In this regard, the Bench observed that a distinction has to be made between statements of fact and opinions. Further that,
"... with respect to opinions and subjective issues, which cannot demonstrably be shown to reveal the facts on which opinions are based, then different yardstick applies."
When the statement in question is an opinion, the Court explained that no defamation can be made out if it is based on non-defamatory, disclosed facts, regardless of how derogatory the opinion is. As recorded in the order,
However, the Bench added,
"... if the expression of opinion is based on undisclosed or implied facts, support of an action depends on the understanding of the statement. If the recipient reasonably believes the truth of an undisclosed or implied defamatory fact about the subject of the statement, the speaker is liable for making defamatory statement."
[Read the Order]