Vyakti Vikas Kendra, India Public Charitable Trust Thr Trustee Mahesh Gupta & Ors vs. Jitender Bagga & Anr.
CS(OS) No. 1340/2012
Decided On: 09.05.2012
Plaintiffs in this case:
- Plaintiff No. 1 – Vyakti Vikas Kendra, India Public Charitable Trust, is a registered Public Charitable Trust constituted to implement and promote the spiritual, educational, social and developmental activities for The Art of Living in India.
- Plaintiff No. 2 – Mr. Gautam Vig is a devout follower of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
- Plaintiff No. 3 – Mrs. Bhanumati Narsimhan is His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s sister and an Art of Living teacher.
- Plaintiff No. 4 – Mrs. Sharmila Murarka is an Art of Living Teacher.
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 certain highly defamatory materials posted on an internet website by the name http://www.blogger.com/ by one Mr Jitender Bagga, the defendant No.1. The said website is owned by Google, the defendant No.2. It is a Blog Publishing Service which allows people to create and publish a “Blog”.
As per the plaintiff, the defendant No.1 was indiscriminately sending e-mails and publishing a large number of blogs on the website http://www.blogger.com/, which according to them was making highly vulgar, disgusting and abusive references towards His Holiness Sri Sri. Ravi Shankar, owner of Art of Living Foundation, and also towards various other persons associated with the Art of Living mainly Plaintiff no. 3 and 4. A notice complaining the same was given to the defendant No.1, who failed to give any reply.
Plaintiffs in this case also cited 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.”
Held (Delhi High Court):
Defendant No.2 (D2) is an “intermediary” within the definition of Section 2(1)(w) and Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Under Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act, 2000, D2 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.
D2 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, libellious, disparaging or otherwise unlawful.
Rule 3(4) of the said rule provides obligation of an intermediary to remove such defamatory content within 36 hours from receipt of actual knowledge. The said rule is cited below for easy reference-
“The Intermediary, on whose computer system the information is stored or hosted or published, upon obtaining knowledge by itself or been brought to actual knowledge by an affected person in writing or through e-mail signed with electronic signature about any such information as mentioned in sub rule (2) above, shall act within 36 hours and where applicable, work with user or owner of such information to disable such information that is in contravention of sub rule (2).”
- D2 was directed to remove all defamatory contents about the plaintiffs posted by the defendant No.1 on its website http://.blogger.com/ as well as all the links containing defamatory content within 36 hours from the date of knowledge of the order passed by this 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.