The administrator of the WhatsApp group is not directly responsible for the publication of members: Madras HC | Madurai News

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MADURAI: Can a criminal case be filed against a WhatsApp group administrator for offensive messages posted by a group member?
No, the Madras high court said, citing a Bombay high court ruling earlier this year.
Judge GR Swaminathan, directing the Karur District Police to remove the name of a lawyer who was a director of a Whatsapp group called Karur Lawyers, said lawyer R Rajendran should not be the subject of criminal prosecution if he had acted alone as group administrator. . Of course, if the police gather other evidence against Rajendran, then he will have to challenge the case only on the merits, the judge said.
The Bombay District Court had said: “A group administrator has limited power to remove a group member or add other group members … 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. But, if any member of the WhatsApp group posts any content, which is liable to prosecution under the law, that person may be held liable under the relevant legal provisions. In the absence of a specific criminal provision creating vicarious liability, an administrator of a WhatsApp group cannot be held responsible for objectionable content posted by a member of a group. A group administrator cannot be held vicariously liable for an act of a group member, who posts objectionable content, unless it is demonstrated that there was a common intention or a pre-established plan. acting in concert in accordance with this plan by that member of a WhatsApp group and the administrator. ”
This case concerns “very offensive” messages posted by Pachaiyappan, a member of the newsgroup. He was removed from the group and reintroduced as a member later. Alleging collusion between administrator Rajendran and Pachaiyappan, another member, also a lawyer, filed a complaint with Thanthonimalai Police and a case was registered in August 2020.
As the FIR also included Rajendran’s name, he asked the High Court to quash the FIR. The prosecution, however, said it was awaiting a forensic report on whether the message was published only by Pachaiyappan or if it was published in his name by Rajendran himself. tnn


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