Bom HC: states to introduce stricter norms to curb rapid rise of inflammatory posts on social media.

Case: Imran Khan v. State of Maharashtra, PIL-CJ-LD-VC-23 of 2020

Bench : A Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and Madhav J. Jamdar, J.

Facts of the case

It has been alleged that Abu Faizal has been uploading video clips on social media sites and YouTube which have the potential of creating unrest, communal disharmony and a sense of enmity between Hindu and Muslim communities. The police failed in getting video removed from the social media sites.

In May the court passed an order asking the Respondents to file an affidavit in reply. The order further directed for an investigation into the complain made by the petitioner and directed the respondents to block the uploaded videos on social media.

The police was inactive in taking actions and this encouraged Abu Faizal to upload more such videos. After this an FIR was registered by Hyderabad city Cyber Crime Cell against the said Abu Faisal under Section 153-A/269/188/505(1)(b)/505(2) of the Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 67 of Information technology Act, 2000 and during the investigation, it was found that the accused is presently in Dubai.

What Petitioner seeks

Petitioner seeks orders on the State and its police force to prevent the commission of cognizable offence by the said Abu Faisal and to take steps for deletion of the offensive video clips/messages, as well as for direction on the respondents 4 to 6 to permanently block the access of the said Abu Faisal to the relevant social media sites.

Observations of the Court

The duty entrusted upon the police by Sections 149 and 150 of the CrPC to prevent the commission of cognizable offence has to be preceded with knowledge or information of a design to commit a cognizable offence. However in the present matter, without having any prior knowledge and information of the design of the crime it may not be possible for the police to prevent cognizable offense being committed by him.

The PIL was disposed with the parting observations that “…People may exercise some degree of restraint on their liberty of free speech and expression particularly during these testing times.”

“it is time that the State introduces a regime of conduct with stricter norms but satisfying the test of reasonableness, in the exercise of the power conferred by Article 19(2) of the Constitution, to deal with the rapid rise of absolutely avoidable, uncalled for and unwarranted inflammatory posts/messages on the social media.”

- Devesh Tripathi

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