‘Liking’ Social Media Post Isn’t Publishing Or Transmitting It: Allahabad High Court

The allegations against the accused were that he posted certain provocative messages on social media, which resulted in the assembly of about 600-700 persons belonging to the Muslim community for arranging a procession without permission, which caused a serious threat to breach of peace. Representational image

The allegations against the accused were that he posted certain provocative messages on social media, which resulted in the assembly of about 600-700 persons belonging to the Muslim community for arranging a procession without permission, which caused a serious threat to breach of peace. Representational image

The accused had ‘liked’ a post on Facebook which led to a huge procession without permission

The Allahabad High Court recently observed that merely ‘liking’ a post on social media would not amount to publishing or transmitting the post and would not attract section 67 of the Information Technology Act.

Section 67 of the IT Act provides punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.

The bench of Justice Arun Kumar Singh Deshwal was dealing with an application filed under section 482 of CrPC to the proceedings in a case registered in 2019 against accused Mohd Imran Kazi under sections 147, 148, and 149 of the Indian Penal Code, section 67 of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, and section 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act.

The allegations against the accused were that he posted certain provocative messages on social media, which resulted in the assembly of about 600-700 persons belonging to the Muslim community for arranging a procession without permission, which caused a serious threat to breach of peace.

The counsel for the accused contended that there was no material against him and even the report of the Cyber Crime Cell itself showed that no content was found on the Facebook account of the accused.

However, the Additional Government Advocate (AGA) referred to the Cyber Cell report, which stated that though there was no content in the Facebook account of the accused because he had deleted it, the contents were available on his WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Moreover, the investigation officer, appearing in person, apprised the high court that there was one post of one Chaudhari Farhan Usman, which was ‘liked’ by the accused in which it was stated that they would assemble before the collectorate to hand over a certain memorandum to the President of India.

The high court referred to section 67 of the IT Act and said that it is for obscene material and not for provocative material.

“The words ‘lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest’ mean relating to sexual interest and desire, therefore, Section 67 I.T. Act does not prescribe any punishment for other provocative material,” it underscored.

Moreover, the court said that though there is no direct judgment on the issue of whether ‘liking’ a post will amount to any offence or not, the Supreme Court in the judgment of Kaushal Kishor vs State of UP and others (2023), observed that every citizen of India must consciously be restrained in speech, and exercise the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution only in the sense that it was intended by the framers of the Constitution, to be exercised.

Therefore, finding no material on record that could connect the accused with any objectionable post, the court held that no case was made out against him. Hence, it allowed the petition and quashed the case against the accused.

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