Is WhatsApp group admin liable for member’s post? Rajasthan HC says no
Police registered an FIR the same day under section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman” and section 67 of the Information and Technology Act for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic formjaipur Updated: Dec 05, 2017 21:06 IST
Can a WhatsApp group admin (administrator) be held liable for a member’s post? The Rajasthan high court doesn’t think so.
The high court recently granted anticipatory bail to a man who was booked for insulting the modesty of a woman through electronic transmission of obscene material in a WhatsApp group. The post was by a member of the group but the victim named the admin, too, in her complaint to police.
Police said 24-year-old Jaisalmer woman Pooja Garg lodged a complaint on June 24 at Kotwali police station against a man who posted her pictures on a WhatsApp group and wrote some comments insulting her modesty. Police registered an FIR the same day under section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman” and section 67 of the Information and Technology Act for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.
The FIR named Brajendra Garg as the accused for posting the woman’s obscene pictures on the WhatsApp group. Group admin Mahendra Garg was also named as the other accused.
In her complaint, the woman said she was married on June 18 and on June 21, Brajendra Garg posted her obscene pictures in the WhatsApp group that Mahendra Garg ran for the community members. She said Brajendra even called her husband on June 24 and told him that she was already married. This, she said, had affected her marriage and led to loss of her social and personal reputation.
Group admin Mahendra approached court to prevent his arrest in the case. The lower court in Jaisalmer rejected his application. He then approached the Rajasthan high court in Jodhpur. His counsel Ashok Chhangani pleaded before the court that the petitioner was falsely implicated in the case and if he is not released on anticipatory bail, his image will be tarnished.
Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur granted Mahendra anticipatory bail on December 1. The order read that the court found it to be a fit case for anticipatory bail.
Chhangani said the police did not apply its mind in naming Mahendra as an accused. “They tried to act on the section (of IT Act) which is absent. We pleaded this before the high court and got relief,” he added.