The Allahabad High Court recently said that merely liking an obscene post on Facebook or X (formerly Twitter) would not constitute an offence under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (IT Act). [Mohd Imran Kazi v State of UP].
However, sharing or retweeting such a post would amount to “transmission” under Section 67 of the Information Technology (IT) Act thereby attracting penal consequences, the Court ruled.
Merely liking an offensive post would not amount to publishing or “transmitting” such material, Justice Arun Kumar Singh Deshwal explained further.
“A post or message can be said to be published when it is posted, and a post or message can be said to be transmitted when it is shared or retweeted … Liking a post will not amount to publishing or transmitting the post, therefore, merely liking a post will not attract Section 67 IT Act,” the order said.
The Court was hearing a petition to quash a case where a man (petitioner) was accused of posting provocative messages on social media.
The police alleged that the posts had led to an assembly of about 600-700 persons belonging to the Muslim community.
The counsel representing the accused petitioner submitted there was no material against him to indicate that he committed an offence.
In response, the Investigating Officer placed reliance on an allegedly offensive post that was liked by the petitioner.
Since Section 67 of the IT was invoked in the case, the Court examined the provision. It came to the conclusion that this provision applies only when any person publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which tends to deprave and corrupt persons who read, see or hear the message.
While so, the Court held that only liking such a post would not amount to publishing or transmitting the post and thus would not attract Section 67 of the IT Act or any other criminal offence.
Even otherwise, the Court observed that Section 67 of the IT Act is for obscene material and not for “provocative” material.
“The words ‘lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest’ mean relating to sexual interest and desire, therefore, Section 67 I.T. Act does not prescribe any punishment for other provocative material,” the Court said.
Finding no material to connect the accused with any objectionable post, the Court said no case was made out against him and consequently quashed the proceedings against him.
Advocate Jai Raj represented the petitioner. Advocate Rajeev Kr Singh represented the State.