Nagpur: Calling a person ‘impotent’ amounts to defamation, and adversely affects his manhood, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court ruled.

A single-judge bench comprising justice Sunil Shukre held, “Prima facie, the word ‘impotent’, when understood in a 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”.

This ruling would help a lot of husbands facing divorce cases where ‘impotency’ is cited as a reason by wives for separation. Other reasons include dowry harassment and domestic violence.

The conversation about 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.  The man subsequently lodged a case against his wife over these allegations under sections 500 (defamation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

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

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."