The Kerala High Court has highlighted the absence of proper legislation to address the problem of defamatory posts on social media platforms. In a recent order, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan urged the legislature to take this matter seriously, given the prevalence of such posts in today’s technological age.
With the rise of social media platforms, defamatory Facebook posts and other forms of online content are becoming more common. However, there is currently no appropriate punishment for individuals who engage in such activities. The court emphasized the need for the legislature to address this issue, particularly in light of the widespread use of social media in our society.
The court’s observations came in response to a plea filed a Christian priest who was facing proceedings for allegedly altering and sharing a banner on Facebook that belonged to a rival faction. The priest was charged under Section 120(o) of the Kerala Police Act, which criminalizes causing nuisance through means of communication such as calls, letters, messages, or emails.
If the court were to interpret a defamatory Facebook post as constituting an offense, it would mean that almost all posts on the platform could be considered illegal under Section 120(o) of the Kerala Police Act. To support its position, the court referred to a previous case (Sajeev S v. State of Kerala, 2023) in which it was determined that posting a modified word in a WhatsApp group did not constitute a nuisance.
After reviewing the Facebook post, the complaint, and the final report, the court concluded that the case did not fall within the scope of Section 120(o) of the Kerala Police Act. As a result, the court dismissed the criminal proceedings against the accused.
In order to effectively combat the issue of defamatory posts on social media, it is clear that there is a need for comprehensive legislation that addresses the specific challenges posed online platforms. Such legislation should strike a balance between protecting freedom of speech and preserving the rights and reputations of individuals in the digital age.
– Kerala High Court order in the plea to quash proceedings against a Christian priest
– Sajeev S v. State of Kerala (2023) case
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