A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that an administrator of Whatsapp group can be held criminally liable for objectionable post of its member for committing offences punishable under sections 354-A(1)(iv) , 509 and 107 of the Indian Penal Code and section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The High court further held that an Administrator of a Whatsapp group does not have power to regulate, moderate or censor the content before it is posted on the group. But, if a member of the Whatsapp group posts any content, which is actionable under law, such person can be held liable under relevant provisions of law. In theabsence of specific penal provision creating vicarious liability, an administrator of a Whatsapp group cannot be held liable for objectionable content posted by a member of a group. A group administrator cannot be held vicariously liable for an act of member of the group, who posts objectionable content, unless it is shown that there was common intention or pre-arranged plan acting in concert pursuant to such plan by such member of a Whatsapp group and the administrator. Common intention cannot be established in a case of Whatsapp service user merely acting as a group administrator. When a person creates a Whatsapp group, he cannot be expected to presume or to have advance knowledge of the criminal acts of the member of the group.
Copy of the judgement