The Delhi High Court has ruled out the all administrators of WhatsApp groups can’t be held or made liable for defamatory statements by any other member of the group.
In a significant ruling, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, while dismissing a defamation case, said, “I am unable to understand as to how the administrator of a group can be held liable for defamation, even if any, by the statements made by a member of the group.”
“When an online platform is created, the creator, thereof, cannot expect any of the members there of to indulge in defamation and defamatory statements… and cannot make the administrator liable therefore. It is not as if without the administrator’s approval of each of the statements, the statements cannot be posted by any of the members of the group on the said platform,” the court observed in its November 29 interim order.
The court made it clear that making an administrator of an online platform liable for defamation would be akin to making the manufacturer of newsprint on which defamatory statements are published liable for defamation.
Other social media administrator of Telegram and Google group, where some defamatory statements were allegedly made by some members, was made defendant to the suit.
In the instant case, the administrator was sued by a person against whom certain statements were posted on the group.
However, the court while going through the text agreed that,
“The conversation is neither defamatory nor bad in words and the administrator can’t be held guilty for this. Rather the conversation is found to be complimentary for the defendant in the case.”
The court slated further hearing in the case on February 21, 2017.
In India on many occasions, the police have taken action against administrators of groups liable for defamatory statements by members.