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Rajasthan HC grants bail to WhatsApp group admin booked over woman’s complaint of obscene photos

The woman had lodged a complaint on June 24 accusing a WhatsApp group administrator of posting her pictures and comments insulting her on the group.

jaipur Updated: Dec 05, 2017 13:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
WhatsApp,Rajasthan high court,WhatsApp group administrator
People have raised concerns about the misuse of social media as fake news, rumours, morphed photographs and videos with fabricated news can easily be circulated on such groups.(File photo)

The Rajasthan high court has granted bail to the administrator of a WhatsApp group who was booked after a woman lodged a complaint against him and a member about her objectionable photographs and comments posted on it.

Jaisalmer Police said a 24-year-old woman lodged a complaint at Kotwali police station on June 24 against Brajendra Garg, who she said posted her pictures and comments insulting her on a WhatsApp group. She also named Mahendra Garg, the administrator of the group for the members of her community.

The woman said in her complaint that she got married on June 18 and Brajendra Garg posted the obscene pictures on the WhatsApp group on June 21. She said Brajendra Garg even called her husband on June 24 and told him that she was already married.

She said it affected her marriage and led to the loss of her social and personal reputation.

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 man who posted the woman’s obscene pictures on the group and as well as Mahendra Garg.

Mahendra Garg approached a local court in Jaisalmer to prevent his arrest in the case. However, the lower court rejected his application and he approached the Rajasthan high court in Jodhpur.

Mahendra Garg’s 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 in the society will be tarnished.

Justice Vinit Kumar Mathur granted an anticipatory bail to Mahendra Garg 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 Garg as an accused.

“They tried to act into the section (of IT Act) which is absent. We pleaded this before the high court and got relief,” he added.

Last year, the Delhi high court also held that administrators of WhatsApp, Telegram and similar social networking services cannot be held guilty of defamation if the members of the group post libellous and obscene messages.

People have raised concerns about the misuse of social media as fake news, rumours, morphed photographs and videos with fabricated news can easily be circulated on such groups that can trigger tension and even communal rift in an area.

Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra registered a case in April this year against an unidentified administrator and three to four other members of a WhatsApp group after a woman complained about objectionable religious posts and that she was repeatedly forced to join it.

The district administration in Darbhanga in north Bihar issued an advisory with detailed dos and don’ts for administrators of social media groups.

There are over 200 million WhatsApp users in India.

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 13:46 IST