Monday, May 17, 2021

WhatsApp group Admin not liable for an inappropriate post by other members

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The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that the WhatsApp group Admin can not be held criminally liable for an inappropriate post made by other members of the group, dismissing a case of sexual harassment filed against a 33-year-old man.

The order was passed last month, and a copy was made available on April 22. A division bench observed that an administrator of a WhatsApp group has only restricted powers of adding or removing members and does not have the authority to control or censor the content posted in the group.

Kishor Tarone (33), a WhatsApp group admin has filed the application. According to the indictment, Tarone failed to take action against a member of his WhatsApp group who used foul and inappropriate language against a female group member.

It was said that the applicant, as the group administrator, did not suspend or delete the member from the group and did not request that he apologise. According to the bench’s order, the core of the issue is whether an administrator of a WhatsApp group can be held legally liable for inappropriate posts made by a group member.

“The administrator of a WhatsApp group does not have the power to regulate, moderate or censor the content before it is posted on the group,” said the high court in its order.

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Highcourt further said that if a member of the group posts any such content, can be held liable. In the absence of a special penal clause establishing vicarious liability, a WhatsApp group administrator cannot be held responsible for inappropriate content shared by a group member unless it can be shown that there was a mutual purpose or pre-arranged plan, the court stated in its order.

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