Calcutta HC orders sharing of URL details with Facebook India to allow takedown, orders alleged offender to be charged
The Kolkata High Court on Monday ordered the petitioner to immediately share the URL details of an alleged offensive post about Goddess Saraswati with the authorities of Facebook India to allow such offensive post to be removed. The Court also ordered the petitioner to take appropriate steps to implicate the alleged perpetrator of the offense as a party at the time…
The Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered the petitioner to immediately share the URL details of an alleged offensive post on Goddess Saraswati with the authorities of facebook india in order to authorize the deletion of such an offensive message. The Court also ordered the applicant to take appropriate measures to implicate the alleged perpetrator of the offense as a party to the present proceedings.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Judge Rajrashi Bharadwaj spoke out on a Public Interest Litigation (LIP) petition asking for instructions for the removal of an offensive Facebook post about Goddess Saraswati. The alleged perpetrator had allegedly posted that the worship of Goddess Saraswati should be discouraged in schools as the Goddess is described as having a ‘illicit relationship’ with his father.
Ordering Facebook authorities to take steps to remove such an offensive post, the House observed,
“Given the circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that if such a message has been posted on Facebook, it should be deleted as it is apparently offensive. Respondent #1 is urged to do the necessary to this regard.”
Advocate General S. N. Mookherjee appearing for the state government informed the bench that the alleged Facebook post was indeed an offensive post about Goddess Saraswati and should be removed. He also informed the House that the state government had written a letter to Facebook India authorities to identify the alleged user’s account details.
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgui appearing for Facebook India argued before the Court that since the petitioner did not disclose the details of the URL of the alleged offensive post, it is difficult to trace such post and whether such offensive post has been deleted or nope. He further argued that his client would provide basic subscriber information regarding the alleged infringer with the state government as well as the petitioner.
Lead Counsel further informed the Chamber that although the name of the alleged offender was mentioned in the motion, the alleged offender was not imploded as a party. . Accordingly, he requested instructions to implicate the alleged infringer as a party to these proceedings.
Lead Counsel Rohatgi further argued that the legal situation established pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shreya Singhal v. Indian Union is that in such circumstances, the Court must order the removal of these offensive Facebook posts. Since Facebook is a middleman platform, it cannot decide on its own whether a post is immoral or not, the lead attorney added.
“We do not dispute whether the Court orders its removal”remarked the lead attorney regarding the allegedly offensive Facebook posts.
Counsel for the Applicant noted before the bench, “Facebook does not act as an intermediary… there are loopholes missing in Indian laws to propagate hate speech.”
In accordance with the submissions of the parties concerned, the Chamber further ordered,
“The learned attorney for the petitioner is urged to promptly disclose the URL of the post in question to respondent #1 and also take appropriate steps to implicate the person who posted such a post on Facebook.”
The petitioner was also ordered to file English translations of the documents attached to the petition. The Court also took note of the supplemental affidavit filed by the petitioner and further ordered the petitioner to serve a copy of this supplemental affidavit on the respondents.
The case is expected to be heard next February 22.
The petitioner was represented by lawyers Mita Banerjee Ray and Barun Kumar Ray.
Case Title: Madhurima Sengupta v. Facebook Inc. India and Ors
Click here to read/download the order