Orkut user faces legal case over anti Shiv Sena community

Orkut user, Ajith D is facing legal case over an anti Shiv sena community started by him.

“Petitioner Ajith D had started a community on Orkut against Shiv Sena. In this community, there were several posts and discussions by anonymous persons who alleged that Shiv Sena was trying to divide the country on region and caste basis.
Reacting to these posts, the Shiv Sena youth wing’s state secretary registered a criminal complaint at Thane police station in August 2008 based on which FIR was registered against Ajith under Sections 506 and 295A pertaining to hurting public sentiment.

After getting anticipatory bail from Kerala HC, Ajith moved the Supreme Court through counsel seeking quashing of the criminal complaint on the ground that the blog contents were restricted to communication within the community and did not have defamation value. He also pleaded that there was threat to his life if he appeared in a Maharashtra court.” (source)

Supreme court refused to quash the criminal proceedings

“We cannot quash criminal proceedings. You are a computer student and you know how many people access internet portals. Hence, if someone files a criminal action on the basis of the content, then you will have to face the case. You have to go before the court and explain your conduct.”

Who is the culprit?

In essence, SC approves suing of a community group owner whose community gets anonymous comments – extend this to bloggers and you will find everybody in jail.

There are loads of shivsena groups available on Orkut – so isn’t it important to regulate the platform than sue the community owner?

What about the platform that allows this discussion? i.e. Orkut? Orkut, time and again has taken anti-user stand (they happily shared IP address of users with police).

The question is pertinent to Orkut – why allow creating such groups, when you don’t have minimal tools to conduct checks and balances (e.g. profanity filters?).

As far as SC’s decision is concerned, it’s ‘just another’ blow to freedom of speech. While I agree that responsibility lies with bloggers as well, I am not sure whether criminal proceedings is justified.

IT Act 2008

This is what India’s IT Act 2008 has to say :

Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,—
(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or

(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,

c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages,shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

If you are a blogger, do share your opinion on this case.

Also see: Google India in a legal case over a blogger’s post | Techie held for posting derogatory messages against Sonia Gandhi on Orkut