Google India Private Limited vs. Visakha Industries and Ors.

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Google India Private Limited v. Visakha Industries and Ors.
In the Supreme Court of India
Cr. A. 1987/2014
Before Justice M. Shantanagoudar and Justice K. M. Joseph
Decided on December 12, 2019

Relevancy of the case: Role of intermediaries

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2(1), 7, 65, 66A, 66B, 66C, 66D, 79)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  1. The complainant alleged that accused number 1’s statement in the articles on one of the websites hosted by the accused was filled with hatred and it was defamatory in nature, and which a person of ordinary intelligence in society would believe the said statements.
  2. The said statement injured the reputation of the complainant.
  3. The act of the accused in posting certain defamatory articles in the cyber space, which is visited by innumerable internet surfers across the globe.
  4. The appellant came to be summoned by the Magistrate pursuant to the complaint which seeks to invoke Sections 120B, 500 and 501 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860(Code).
  5. The Appellant filed a petition before the High Court to quash the order passed by Magistrate summoning the appellant for offences punishable under Sections 120B, 500 and 501 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  6. The High Court dismissed the petition.

Opinion of the Bench

The appellant is asking the court to decide a point which is not even raised before the High Court. The exact same ground was taken before the High Court, relates to the inability of the parent company to remove the post without a court order. However, the bench feels that this is a question which can be independent of the non-availability of the protection under Section 79 of the Act in its erstwhile avatar, as pursued by the Appellant. This is a matter which we leave it open to the Appellant to urge before the Court.

Final Decision

  1. The contention of the Appellant that the High Court should have acted on the Google LLC conditions stands rejected and the Appellant is not the intermediary. The matter is to be held for trial.
  2. Section 79 of the Act, prior to its substitution, did not protect an intermediary with regards to the offence under Section 499/500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  3. The findings by the High Court regarding the alleged refusal of the appellant to respond to the notice to remove is set aside. However, it was made clear that it is for the Court to decide the matter on the basis of the materials placed before it, and taking into consideration the observations contained in this judgment.

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