Vyakti Vikas Kendra, Indian Public Charitable Trust & Ors v. Jitendra Bagga & Anr
AIR 2012 Del 180
In the Delhi High Court
CS(OS) No. 1340/2012
Before Justice Manmohan Singh
Decided on May 09, 2012
Relevancy of the case: Removal of defamatory content published on Blogger against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his associates
Statutes & Provisions Involved
- The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2(1)(w), 79)
- Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 (Rule 3(2), Rule 3(3), Rule 3(4))
Relevant Facts of the Case
- The four plaintiffs, in this case, filed a suit against the defendants for damages and permanent injunction, mainly on the ground that they are aggrieved and hurt because of highly defaming blogs posted on a website of the name http://www.blogger.com.
- The blogs were posted by defendant No.1, Mr Jitender Bagga. The said website is owned by defendant No.2, Google. It is a Blog Publishing Service which allows people to create and publish a “Blog”.
- As per the plaintiffs, the defendant No.1 was indiscriminately sending e-mails and publishing many blogs on the said website, which according to them was making highly vulgar, disgusting and abusive references towards their Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, owner of Art of Living Foundation, and towards various other persons associated with the Art of Living.
Prominent Arguments by the Advocates
Plaintiffs, in this case, cited a relevant policy of the defendant No.2 for removal of defamatory content from its website http://www.blogger.com/ which is given below for reference –
“After careful review, Blogger may remove content or place a content warning page before viewing content deemed offensive, harmful, or dangerous, such as :
- Hate against a protected group
- Adult or pornographic images
- Promotion of dangerous and illegal activity
- Content facilitating phishing or account hijacking
- Impersonated user identity
Additionally, we are aware that there may be content on Blogger that is personal in nature or feels invasive. Please note that Blogger is a provider of content creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to create blogs, but we don’t make any claims about the content of these pages. We strongly believe in freedom of expression, even if a blog contains unappealing or distasteful content or presents unpopular viewpoints. We realize that may be frustrating, and we regret any inconvenience this may cause you. In cases where contact information for the author is listed on the page, we recommend that you work directly with this person to have the content in question removed or changed.
Here are some examples of content we will not remove unless provided with a Court order:
- Personal attacks or alleged defamation
- Parody or satire of individuals
- Distasteful imagery or language
- Political or social commentary.”
Opinion of the Bench
- Defendant No.2 is an “intermediary” as per of Section 2(1)(w) and Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- Under Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act, 2000, Defendant No. 2 is under an obligation to remove unlawful content if it receives actual notice from the affected party of any illegal content being circulated/published through its service.
- Defendant No.2 is also bound to comply with Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011. Rule 3(3) of the said rules read with Rule 3(2) requires an intermediary to observe due diligence or publish any information that is grossly harmful, defamatory, libellous, disparaging or otherwise unlawful.
- Rule 3(4) of the said rule provides the obligation of an intermediary to remove such defamatory content within 36 hours from receipt of actual knowledge.
- Defendant No.2 was directed to remove all defamatory contents about the plaintiffs posted by the defendant No.1 on its website http://www.blogger.com/ as well as all the links containing defamatory content within 36 hours from the date of knowledge of the order passed by the Court.
- Defendant No.1 was restrained from sending any such e-mails or posting any material over the internet having a direct or indirect reference to the plaintiffs or the Art of Living Foundation or any member of the Art of Living Foundation, or His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.