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Kerala HC stays summons issued to WhatsApp India Rep in obscene video case

By Rintu Mariam Biju      21 February, 2024 02:02 PM      0 Comments
Kerala HC stays summons issued to WhatsApp India Rep in obscene video case

KOCHI: On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court stayed an order passed by a subordinate court summoning WhatsApp's India representative Krishna Mohan Choudhary to provide information regarding the first originator of certain messages in relation to a complaint filed by a lady politician.

The complaint was that the aforesaid messages outraged her modesty and tarnished her image as a politician.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas was prompted to grant a stay after accepting WhatsApp’s condition that since the offence alleged is punishable only with less than 5 years of imprisonment, Rule 4(2) [of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021] can’t be invoked.

The Court was considering a plea moved by WhatsApp challenging an order of the Magistrate Court issued on November 20, 2023 under Rule 4(2) of the IT Rules 2021. In the plea, the messaging app also sought for striking down Rule 4(2) as unconstitutional. 

As per Rule 4(2), a significant social media intermediary which provides messaging service must trace the identity of the first originator of a message, if a court order is passed to that effect. 

It is WhatsApp’s case that Rule 4(2) violates fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. Further, it is ultra vires the Information Technology Act, and manifestly arbitrary in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

It was further brought to light that challenge to the IT Rules is already pending before various High Courts.

 Advocates Tejas Karia, Swati Agarwal, Shashank Mishra, Akshi Rastogi, Thomas P Kuruvilla and P Prijith appeared for WhatsApp.



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