WhatsApp Group Admin Not Liable for Objectionable Post by Others: Bombay HC
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WhatsApp Group Admin Not Liable for Objectionable Post by Others: Bombay HC

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An administrator of a WhatsApp group can’t be held criminally responsible for an objectionable submit by one other member of the group, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has held and quashed a case of sexual harassment lodged in opposition to a 33-year-old man.

The order was handed final month and a duplicate of it was made obtainable on April 22. A division bench headed by Justice Z A Haq and A B Borkar famous that an administrator of a WhatsApp group has
solely restricted powers of including or deleting members to the group and doesn’t have the facility to control or censor the content material posted within the group.

The court docket handed its order on an utility filed by Kishor Tarone (33), the administrator of a WhatsApp group.

He was looking for to quash the case registered in opposition to him in Gondia district in 2016 below Sections 354-A(1)(iv) (making sexually colored remarks), 509 (insulting the modesty of a lady) and 107 (abetment) of the IPC and Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene materials in digital
kind) of the Information Technology Act.

As per the prosecution, Tarone did not take motion in opposition to a member of his WhatsApp group who used filthy and indecent language in opposition to a lady member within the group.

It was alleged that the applicant, being the group administrator, didn’t take away or delete the member from the group and likewise didn’t requested him to apologise. The bench in its order mentioned the crux of the matter is whether or not an administrator of a WhatsApp group will be held criminally responsible for objectionable posts made by a member of the group.

Noting the functioning of the messaging service app, the court docket mentioned, “Group administrators, as they are generally called, are the ones who create the group by adding or deleting members. Every chat group has one or more administrators.”

A gaggle administrator has solely restricted energy of eradicating a member from the group or including different members to the group, it mentioned. “Once the group is created, the functioning of the administrator, and that of the members is at par with each other, except the power of adding or deleting members to the
group,” the court docket mentioned.

“The administrator of a WhatsApp group does not have the power to regulate, moderate or censor the content before it is posted on the group,” the HC mentioned. But, if a member of the group posts any content material, which is actionable below legislation, such an individual will be held liable, the court docket mentioned.

“In the absence of a special penal provision creating vicarious liability, an administrator of a WhatsApp group cannot be held liable for objectionable content posted by a member of a group unless it is shown that there was common intention or pre-arranged plan,” the court docket mentioned in its order.

The HC quashed and put aside the FIR lodged in opposition to Tarone and the following cost sheet filed in opposition to him.

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