Is calling someone out who is not paying his dues to the residential society as a defaulter a valid ground for that individual to file a defamation suit? more
Though I am not a lawyer.
My submission is as a layman.
First thing first. Defamation suit is not always entertained by courts. They see whether there is merit or it is just of intimidation. So someone approaching court with defamation suit does not necessarily mean it will be accepted.
Secondly, if someone is really a ‘defaulter’(and you can prove that by facts, figures and records) and you have called him/her so, it will never be a defamation. Defamation is only when you ‘falsely’ accuse someone in ‘public’ of a wrong which he/she has never committed, and which has tarnished respect and honour of the accused.
Thirdly, defamation is only when you have said defamatory false things in ‘public’. Anything said in private is not defamation. It can be anything else. There are separate provisions to deal with such cases. more
Problem with this system is that it can be (and it is) used as harassment tool since ordinary persons are scared of courts and legal issues. And this would also lead to needless legal expenses and wastage of time.
Of course, in your case the defaulter probably has no valid ground especially if you have followed all due process - meaning sent the notices to defaulter before using the naming and shaming approach and copied RCS in those notices. But as I said, as per my understanding the person can definitely engage a lawyer and file defamation suite. If the action of naming and shaming has been taken in official capacity then it should be the responsibility of society to defend the official.
Having said this, RCS Act clearly provides the required process for collecting society dues from any defaulter. It requires society to first send 3 notices to defaulter (with copy to RCS) and if dues are not cleared, ask RCS to initiate the proceedings against the defaulter. It would require a bit of follow-up with RCS but I have seen RCS issuing notice to SDM to go and take defaulter into custody unless he clears the due immediately. Not sure what actually happened subsequently. more