The Kerala High Court has said that the admins or creators of a WhatsApp group cannot be held optionally responsible for objectionable content posted by any of its members. The High Court gave this decision while quashing the POCSO case against the admin of a WhatsApp group, a member of which had posted child pornography on him.
The court said that as held by the Bombay and Delhi High Courts, “the sole privilege of an administrator of a WhatsApp group over other members is that he may add or remove any member from the group”.
“He has no physical or any control over what a group member is posting to him. He may not moderate or censor messages in a group.
The Kerala HC said, “Thus, the creator or administrator of a WhatsApp group, acting only in that capacity, cannot be held responsible for any objectionable material posted by any member of the group.”
In the instant case, the petitioner had created a WhatsApp group named Friends and had administrated two other persons along with him and one of them had posted an obscene video in the group which clearly showed children indulging in sexual acts went.
As a result, the police registered an offense against the man – accused no. 1 – Under the Information Technology Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act.
Thereafter, the petitioner was referred to the accused no. After completion of 2 more investigations, the final report was filed in the lower court.
The petitioner, in his petition seeking quashing of the proceedings against him, had argued that even though the entire allegation and the material collected were taken together at their face value, they did not indicate that he had committed any offence. Is.
The High Court agreed with the contention and said, “There is nothing on record to suggest that the petitioner has published or transmitted the alleged obscene material or has published or transmitted in any electronic form or that he has browsed or downloaded or, in any way, facilitated online abuse of children. Similarly, there is no case before the prosecution that the petitioner used any form of media for his sexual gratification. used or used them for pornographic purpose or for commercial purpose, stored any child pornographic material.” Can be held responsible for the posts made.
“A WhatsApp admin cannot be an intermediary under the IT Act. He does not receive or transmit any record or render any service in respect of such record.
The court said, “There is no master-servant or principal-agent relationship between the admin of the WhatsApp group and its members. It is against the basic principles of criminal law to hold the admin responsible for a post published by someone else in the group.” ” Told.
It further said that the fundamentals of the alleged offenses are “completely absent against the petitioner” and quashed the entire proceedings in the case against him.