bombay high court, provoked in the name of religion
Bombay High CourtWikimedia Commons

The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that calling a man 'impotent' can be considered as defamation, attract adverse comments and opinions from others, and will affect his manhood.

"Prima facie, the word 'impotent', when understood in plain and grammatical sense, reflects adversely upon person's manhood and has a tendency to invite derisive opinions about him from others. Therefore, its usage and publication as contemplated under Section 499 (damage to reputation) would be sufficient to constitute the offence of defamation under Section 500 (punishment for defamation) of IPC," the court said, reports The Times Of India.

The court also said that the term 'impotency' whether said in a straightforward way or in a contextual setting, is capable of causing harm to the man's manhood and his reputation.

The discussion of using the term 'impotent' began when a woman in Maharashtra cited her husband's impotency to gain custody of her daughter during the couple's divorce proceedings which began in 2016.

At these accusations, the man lodged a case against his wife and her parents under sections 500 (defamation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code last year which the wife later challenged in the Bombay High Court.

The court gave the landmark ruling and rejected the woman's plea to have herself removed from the criminal proceedings against her, reports The Times of India.

The report claims that the wife wanted to avoid writing about her husband's impotency in her plea. However, his behaviour compelled her to.

Justice Shukre observed that the woman had also issued multiple threats to tarnish her husband's reputation if he did not do what he was told.

The judge said, "Reading her allegations without adding/subtracting anything from it, one gets an impression that it's defamatory in character and has been, prima facie, calculated to cause harm or injury to husband's reputation. It also gives an impression that apparently, it has been made with consciousness about the repercussion that such a statement would have on his life."