Only 'family members' or 'near relatives' of a deceased person can file a suit for defamation under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently held (Raj Kumar Saini v. Sant Kanwar).
On that ground, a single-judge Bench of Justice Sanjay Kumar quashed a defamation complaint filed by an unrelated person against a late Arya Samajist. The High Court adverted to Section 499 of the Penal Code and noted that only a ‘person aggrieved’ could file a defamation suit. The Court additionally emphasized that an imputation made against a deceased person could also amount to defamation, but that only a relative or family member could file a defamation suit in respect of an imputation against a deceased person. The Court, therefore, quashed the complaint noting that the complainant in this case was not a family member or a near relative of the deceased.