Sr. Adv. Saurabh Kripal appointed as amicus curiae in plea by woman seeking removal of objectionable content from Google and Youtube

  • Thyagarajan Narendran
  • 02:30 PM, 12 Oct 2021

Delhi High Court has appointed Sr. Adv. Saurabh Kripal as amicus curiae in a petition filed by a woman seeking the issuance of directions to the Union to block certain sites which are pornographic sites operating under pseudo names, according to the plea.

The plea further seeks directions against respondents including Google and YouTube to delink the name of the Petitioner from their search engines/sites and issuance of directions to the respondents to block any nude, sexually explicit or morphed photos of the Petitioner from appearing on their sites.

Justice Subramonium Prasad of Delhi High Court issued notice in the matter on the first date of hearing and asked the centre, Google and Youtube to remove links or sites carrying these links with the help of Cyber Cell of Delhi Police.

According to the order of the High Court dated Oct 6, the counsel for Google LLC submitted that all the offending materials that were notified to them by the court and the petitioner have been removed from Youtube and no fresh material had been uploaded. The counsel for the Union submitted that only a few links were active. The court accordingly directed the Petitioner to implead the websites carrying these 5 links.

The matter is now listed for further hearing on Nov 8.

It is to be noted that the Delhi High Court in April had held that photographs taken from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, and uploaded on pornographic websites without the consent of the concerned person amounts to an offence under Section 67 of the IT Act irrespective of the photograph being offensive/obscene  the act of taking such photograph itself amounts to a breach of a person's privacy. Adv. Pavan Duggal was appointed the amicus curiae in that matter.

In addition to the above judgment, Justice Jairam Bhambani has also earlier issued a suggested framework of directions in this regarding, directing that:

  • The intermediary should take all reasonable and practicable measures to remove or disable access to such content that is hosted, stored, published or transmitted by it within 24 hours of receipt of the complaint as per Rule 3(2) of the Information Technology Rules 2021.
  • The online platform hosting the offending content is to preserve all information and records pertaining to the  content in order to ensure that the evidence pertaining to the offending content is not vitiated, at least for a period of 180 days or such longer period as the court may direct, for use in investigation as per Rule 3(1)(g)
  • Search engines have to de-index and de-reference the content in their listed search results pertaining to the offending content, including webpages, sub-pages or sub-directories on which the offending content is found.
  • Intermediaries, whether websites/online platforms/search engines should  endeavour to employ pro-active monitoring by using automated tools, to identify and remove or disable access to any content that is 'exactly identical' to the offending content that is subject matter of the court order, as per Rule 4(1)(d).
  • Law enforcement authority should be directed to obtain all unique user information in relation to the offending content not later than 72 hours from the receipt of the complaint
  • The court may also direct the litigant to lodge their complaint on the National Cyber-Crime Reporting Portal, for initiating the process provided for grievance redressal on that portal.
  • Most importantly, the court under the relevant section of the Information Technology Act would examine whether an intermediary would forfeit the exemption from liability enjoyed by it under the law, if it were to fail to observe its obligations for removal/access disablement of offending content despite a court order to that effect.

Case Title : X Vs Union of India & Ors