Registrar (Judicial) v. Union Ministry of Communications

Samiksha UniyalCase Summary

Suo moto public interest writ petition on Blue Whale online game

Registrar (Judicial) v. Union Ministry of Communications
(2017) 8 Mad LJ 712
In the High Court of Madras
Suo Motu WP (MD) 16668/2017
Before Justice K K Sasidharan and Justice G R Swaminathan
Decided on September 12, 2017

Relevancy of the case: Suo moto public interest writ petition on Blue Whale online game

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 69A, 69B, 70B, 79)
  • The Constitution of India (Article 226)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The court took suo moto cognisance of a new report covering the Blue Whale game. A 19-year-old committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling. In other news reports, the players jumped off the buildings.
  • The players provide their personal information like name, e-mail address, photograph and mobile number to the administrator. The administrator psychologically controls players and induces them to commit suicide by assigning various tasks.
  • Many such incidents have come to the light after the court took suo moto cognisance of the issue.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The counsels of respondents submitted that the youth is the probable victim of this online game. The police have started counselling and surveillance. Sometimes, the police conducts surprise checking on browsing centres. Further, Indian laws are insufficient for dealing with this issue.

Opinion of the Bench

  • Online games are addictive and a waste of time. Sometimes, the online activities of children remain unchecked. Social awareness and parental control can help in defeating this menace.
  • People played the game online when it was not downloadable. The court expressed its concerns over the circulation of game links on platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
  • MEITY issued notices to Microsoft India, Facebook India, Yahoo India and other service providers to delete the links to the game. Google India is shifting the onus to Google Inc. The court recommended amending the laws to make the technology companies and websites accountable to the Indian laws. The bench discussed the legislative framework provided under Section 69A, 69B and 79 of The Information Technology Act, 2000, and other rules issued thereunder.
  • The Government of India should ensure compliance to the Indian laws by websites and over the top platforms and remove the links to download the game. The State government should appoint a nodal officer, issue advisories and conduct counselling.
  • The court directed the Government of India and State Government to prosecute culprits under relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • The court directed Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to conduct the digital forensic analysis of the victims’ devices.

Final Decision

  • After issuing the directions, the court disposed of the petition.