Madras High Court reaffirms that WhatsApp group admin isn’t liable for a member’s posts

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Madras High Court reaffirms that WhatsApp group admin isn’t liable for a member’s posts
IANS
  • Madras High Court reiterated that WhatsApp group admin are not liable for member’s posts.
  • Justice GR Swaminathan referred to a similar judgement given by the Bombay High Court before giving his orders.
  • The Court asked the respondent to bear in mind the ruling of the Bombay High Court.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court reiterated the Bombay High Court’s finding of a previous case that a WhatsApp group administrator cannot be held liable for objectionable content posted by members of the groups.

Justice GR Swaminathan referred to the Kishore v. State Maharashtra of the Bombay High Court which ruled that a WhatsApp group admin must be deleted from the list of accused if he did not play any part in the crime committed by group members other than being an admin.

However, the Court also held that if another material is gathered that shows the admin being involved in the crime, he may be tried according to the law.

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The order was given on a plea that seeks to cancel a First Information Report (FIR) against the group admin in which offensive messages were circulated by a member that could cause animosity between communities.

The petition claimed that the petitioner was only the administrator of the WhatsApp group and he could not be held responsible for the messages sent by the group members.

As per the complainant, the petitioner lacked honesty, claiming that there was a conspiracy between the group admin and the member since the member was first removed from the group and then re-added.

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The Court disposed of the complaint and asked the respondent to bear in mind the ruling of the Bombay High Court in Kishore vs. State Maharashtra, where a similar case on the liability of a WhatsApp group admin was discussed.

In that ruling, the Bombay High Court had held, “a group administrator cannot be held vicariously liable for an act of a member of the group, who posts objectionable content unless it is shown that there was a common intention or pre-arranged plan acting in concert pursuant to such plan by such member of a Whatsapp group and the administrator.”

The Bombay High Court also stated that the group admin had limited powers of adding and deleting members and cannot be expected to have advanced knowledge of what the members of the group may post.

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In light of the above order, the Madras High Court judge declared that if the petitioner's only role in the case was that of a group admin, then the name must be deleted from the chargesheet.

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