Social media has become an important pillar of democracy as long as it is not misused: Bombay High Court

Latest News

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday quashed a First Information Report (FIR) lodged against a man who had hacked the Facebook page of MLA Ravi Rana and used abusive language against his political opponents [Suraj Arvind Thakare v. State of Maharashtra].

A Division Bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and MW Chandwani noted that Indian democracy has progressed so much that tolerance to fair criticism, dissent and satirical comments has become its hallmark.

“The social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc. today has become a powerful medium for exchange of views, expressing opinions, counter opinions, posting critical or satirical comments and thus has become one of the important pillars on which our democracy stands,” the Bench observed in the order.

However, this is the case only so long as it is not misused by posting remarks that constitute an offence or which do not fall within the reasonable restrictions on free speech under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, the Bench said.

“In addition, one has to be careful when one expresses one’s view or makes comments that the words used are not obscene or undignified or demeaning. In other words, a balance has to be struck between the need for healthy use of social media and the need for preventing misuse of social media.”

The Bench was hearing a plea filed by a 39-year-old man seeking to quash the FIR lodged against him under Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for posting abusive content after hacking the Facebook page of MLA Ravi Rana.

The prosecution claimed that the accused intended to create disharmony among various groups by using abusive language against Rana’s political opponents.

However, the accused contended that Section 153-A is attracted only when there is an intention to create disharmony between two groups based on religion, race, caste etc.

“In the present case, considering the essential ingredients of an offence under Section 153-A of Indian Penal Code and the filthy language used to denounce a leader, we are of the view that this fine balance on which the social media stands is upset,” the Bench said, after hearing both the sides.

Even though the offence under Section 153-A was not made out in this case, it does not give licence to the accused to revile state government officials, the Bench added.

The Court, therefore, quashed the FIR with a hope that the parties would exercise restraint in the future.

“A crime not disclosed has been registered against the applicant on the one hand and a new ebb in showing dissent through lewd comments has been attained by the applicant on the other. We hope, in future some restrain will be shown by both sides.”

Advocates TS Deshpande AD Deshmukh appeared for the applicant. Additional Public Prosecutor IJ Damle represented the State.

Source Link

Leave a Reply