WhatsApp group admin moves Indian HC over post by member; here's what court said

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
Chennai Published: Dec 25, 2021, 06:20 PM(IST)

A WhatsApp group admin approaches Indian HC after a post by member lands him in trouble (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

What if a member of your WhatsApp group posts something controversial or inflammatory? Are you (as admin) liable to face action? In this case, a lawyer himself (as WhatsApp group admin) seems to have landed in trouble over a controversial post in his group and was forced to approach an Indian high court to get respite in the case. The petitioner is Rajendran, a lawyer based out of Tamil Nadu state of India

What if a member of your WhatsApp group posts something controversial or inflammatory? Are you, (as admin) liable to face action? In this case, a lawyer himself (as WhatsApp group admin) seems to have landed in trouble over a controversial post in his group and had to approach a high court in India.  

The petitioner is Rajendran, a lawyer based out of Karur, Tamil Nadu state in India. He is also the creator and administrator of a WhatsApp group known as 'Karur lawyers'.  

Owing to a controversial post that was shared by a group member (that could create enmity between two communities), police took action and filed a case and also included the WhatsApp group admin.  

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However, the group admin, who is also an advocate, approached the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court claiming that he removed the said person, (who made the inflammatory post) from the group and hence, the police shouldn't act against him (group admin).  

Hearing the case, Justice GR Swaminathan observed that it was the responsibility of the group admin to regulate or monitor what the members post. However, the judge also added that it was not the duty of the admin to edit, audit or change the contents of what the group members post.   

He also cited a Bombay High Court judgement, which stated that the admin could not be held responsible for a group member's (controversial or inflammatory) post.  

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The judge also said that it would be too early to comment on this specific case, as the forensic report of the digital conversation was yet to be presented.  

However, the judge opined that, if the petitioner (group admin) was ascertained to be just the admin (and not connected to the controversial post), his name could be left out of the police case.  

The judge also warned that if there was enough evidence of the admin's involvement in the said controversial post, the group admin would also have to face the consequences. 

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