India: Delhi High Court orders removal of all posts defamatory to Ramdev ‘Globally’

October 25, 2019
Liability defamatory to Ramdev

By Lucy Rana and Meril Mathew Joy
There has been a recent and peculiar development in the field of international jurisdiction for orders passed by Indian Courts. This development unfolded in the case of Swami Ramdev & Anr v. Facebook Inc. & Ors., in which a decision has been passed for removing defamatory content posted online without a geographical limit.

The case was decided by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, and held that as long as either the uploading of the content in question is uploaded from India or whether the information that is uploaded is located in India on a computer resource, then the Indian Courts are to have international jurisdiction to pass worldwide injunctions.

The juristic thought behind the judgement was that as long as the uploading of content from India has led to data or information creation in the networks then the same ought to be disabled or blocked by an order passed. To further clarify this the Hon’ble Court opined that, under Section 79 of the Information and Technology Act, 2000, the blocking or disabling of access has to happen at the computer resource which includes computer networks. The computer network on which this Section may apply, applies to the entire network and not a geographically limited network.

The Court further drew parallels with the disabling policies indulged by the platforms (such as Google, Facebook, Twitter) having a global reach and effect; stating that if their (the platforms’) polices are global in nature then there is no reason why Court orders passed by Indian Courts ought not to be global in its effect. The Hon’ble Court held that all the offending material i.e. the various defamatory remarks and information including videos, based on a book titled “Godman to Tycoon – the Untold Story of Baba Ramdev ” which has been uploaded from the country (India) on to the Defendants’ ‘computer resource’ or ‘computer network’ would have to be disabled and blocked on a global scale.

Further observations by the Court were made in this regard, such as, any information which is uploaded from India to a computer resource which led to the information to exist on the network and global dissemination of the same occurs, then the platforms would be liable to remove the information or disable the access to the said information. Such removal or disabling cannot be restricted to a geographical extent.

Potential Consequence:

For a long time extra territorial jurisdiction has been pondered upon and has restricted the application of national laws to the globally functioning platforms on the internet. This instance can be construed as a case of ‘right to be forgotten’, it is not a first of its kind case as it falls in line with many cases across the globe passed on the same legal parameters, such as the EU case which Google won recently. Although, it does not undermine the impact of this judgement as it is coupled with anti-defamatory legal provisions and not mere old information as in the EU-Google Case.

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