Indian Judiciary, Cyber Law and Websites Blocking

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW CEO PTLBRecently a Lower Court was hearing a case where the complainant requested for an order to remove derogatory and obscene contents posted on various Social Networking websites. The Court ordered 21 Social Networking websites including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and YouTube to remove derogatory and obscene content by February 6, 2012.

The magistrate had summoned the accused companies to face trial for allegedly committing the offence punishable under section 292 (sale of obscene books etc), 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person etc) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

Recently another lower Court, in an ex-parte order, had directed the social networking websites to remove the objectionable content in the form photographs, videos or text which might hurt religious sentiments.

Indian Judiciary is trying to deal with Cyber Law issues in the absence of dedicated Social Media Laws in India. Although we have Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) as the Cyber Law of India yet we have no dedicated Social Networking Laws in India. However, Cyber Law on Social Media and Networking Sites in India is still not adequate. It has, in fact, created more problems than solution.

The way Cyber Crimes are committed on Social Media websites in India, it has become a big nuisance for Indian Government to control the same. In fact, Indian Government asked Internet Intermediaries in India to pre screen users’ contents in India. Internet Intermediary Laws in India have been made very stringent and they are required to follow Cyber Law Due Diligence in India. Naturally, Cyber Due Diligence for Indian Companies cannot be ignored any more in India.

However, Indian Executive are bypassing the Parliament of India by formulating Rules instead of getting proper Laws passed by the Parliament. This has created a situation where the Cyber Law of India has become a big nuisance and this Cyber Law of India must be Repealed as soon as possible. Since the Cyber Law of India is incomplete and self contradictory, even Indian Judiciary is confused in many cases.

For instance, cases of ignorant Judicial Blocking of Websites in India have increased a lot where even genuine and law abiding websites are blocked in a blanket manner. In most of the cases, an ex parte order is issued that is seldom contested and the websites remain blocked for an unreasonable period of time.

If Blocking of Websites in India is done to give effect to Laws that are Constitutionally Sound, there is no problem. But if corporate houses start misusing the process of law to get useful, genuine and law abiding websites blocked in India, this is a serious miscarriage of justice in India.

In fact, this amounts to violation of human rights in cyberspace that is happening a lot in India these days. It is high time for Parliament of India to intervene in this regard and enact a Sound, Effective and Constitutionally Sound Cyber Law of India that covers all these issues appropriately.