Nirmaljit Singh Narula v. Indijobs at Hubpages.com & Ors
In the Delhi High Court
CS (OS) No. 871/2012
Before Justice Manmohan Singh
Decided on March 30, 2012
Relevancy: Removal of defamatory content against Nirmal Baba and reading Sec 79 IT Act with Sec 151 CPC.
Statutes & Provisions Involved
• The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2, 69, 79)
• The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (Section 151)
• The plaintiff is a spiritual guide, renowned as Nirmal baba and regularly conducts assemblies called Samagams, which are telecasted by over 30 television channels daily. He claims that he has lakhs of followers in India and abroad and the plaintiff’s website www.nirmalbaba.com is visited by over one million followers in a month.
• The defendant no. 1 is a hubber on the defendant no. 2’s website, www.hubpages.com. There is a commercial arrangement of earning on the website between defendant no.1 and the defendant no. 2 through online advertising.
• As per the case of the plaintiff, the defendant no. 1 has deliberately written defamatory articles about the plaintiff on the website with malafide intent of attracting followers of the plaintiff on the website and making unlawful earnings through online advertising, thereby, causing serious damage to plaintiff’s reputation.
• The plaintiff served a cease and desist legal notice on defendant no. 2 on 29.11.2011 calling upon to remove the defamatory articles and provide contact details and name of the defendant no. 1. Through reply dated 01.12.2011, the defendant no. 2 declined to remove the said articles on ground that the articles merely project a difference of opinion about a public figure.
Prominent Arguments by the Advocates
• Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the plaintiff has also argued that Section 80 of the CPC prescribes prior notice to the Central Government prior to instituting a suit does not apply in present facts of the case, as the suit is not in respect of an act done by defendant no. 3 or 4, as no act of defendants no. 3 and 4 are challenged or sought to be set aside. Therefore, notice under Section 80 of the C.P,C is not required in facts of the case.
Further, she referred paras 14 and 15 of Ram Kumar & Anr vs State of Rajasthan and Ors (2008) 10 SCC 73. She seeks the order that interim relief is not sought by the plaintiff against the defendants no. 3 and 4 but, only to aid in protecting the plaintiff’s interests through blocking of the defamatory pages.
Opinion of the Bench
•As per Sec 79 read with Sec 2(1)(w) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, being an intermediary, defendant no. 2 is under an obligation to disclose the identity of the defendant no.1 to law enforcement agencies.
•It is directed that on the next date, the defendant no. 2 shall provide the complete details of the identity of defendant no. 1 and author log in data of defendant no. 1 including contact details, registration data, residence address and IP address to this court in a sealed cover.