Manual v. State of Kerala

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Vicarious liability of a WhatsApp group admin for an objectionable video sent by a member

Manual v. State of Kerala
(2022) 1 KLJ 936
In the High Court of Kerala
Crl. MC. 3654/2021
Before Justice Kauser Edappagath
Decided on February 23, 2022

Relevancy of the case: Vicarious liability of a WhatsApp group admin for an objectionable video sent by a member

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 67B)
  •  The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (Section 13, 14, 15)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The petitioner is the second accused in the present criminal case. In light of this case, he created a WhatsApp group called “FRIENDS”.
  • Another administrator of the group, accused number 1, shared a porn video depicting children engaged in sexually explicit acts.
  • The police conducted the investigation. Subsequently, they added the petitioner as the accused number 2 for being the creator and co-admin of the group.
  • Evidently, the judge raised the question of whether the petitioner is liable vicariously as a co-administrator.  

Opinion of the Bench

  • The creator or administrator of the group cannot be held vicariously if any member posts objectionable content. Further, he does not have physical or any control over what a member of a group is posting thereon. He cannot moderate or censor messages in a group.
  • Moreover, there are no specific allegations against the petitioner, nor is there any law regarding the same.
  • Additionally, there is no evidence that the petitioner published child pornographic material to attract the POCSO Act.

Final Decision

  • The bench quashed any further proceedings against the petitioner.

Srikari Ammanamanchi, an undergraduate student at the NALSAR University of Law, prepared this case summary during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in May/June 2022.