Is it a crime to like and share controversial picture on social media?

Is it a crime to like and share controversial pictures and comments on Facebook and other social media platforms? Of late pictures of Mr. Digvijay Singh that were hacked from their email and a complaint has been filed against the hackers, are being shared and liked by may people. Is this legal?

Can these people liking and sharing these pictures be booked under cyber crime? If not, why were the girls arrested in Mumbai for a small post they had liked and shared a few months ago?

Please advise.

Answers (1)

231 votes

To get clarity on this, we request you to read the judgment of Shreya Singhal vs Union of India [Writ Petition (CRL) NO(s) 167 OF 2012] wherein the Supreme Court of India has directed all the States and Union Territories to ensure compliance with the advisory issued by the Central Government on 9 January 2013 while affecting arrest under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 until further orders of the Court. 

The direction of the Supreme Court came while hearing an urgent application in the case challenging the arrest of Ms Jaya Vindhyala, human rights activist and President of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Unit of Andhra Pradesh under section 66A of the IT Act on 12 May 2013. 

Ms Vindhyala was arrested and sent to jail over her Facebook post in which certain alleged objectionable comments were made against Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah and Congress MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan. The application was moved by the petitioner, seeking an urgent hearing stating the police was taking action in such matters even though her PIL challenging the validity of section 66A is pending before the Supreme Court. The PIL was filed in November 2012 after two girls were arrested in Thane for their Facebook comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death.  Pursuant to the PIL , Government of India, Department of Electronics and Information Technology has a Notification thereby mentioning guidelines for arrests in cases of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

As per that notification, no arrest can be made without prior approval of the officer equivalent to the Inspector General of Police in Metropolitan Area and in the district of a State with prior approval of the officer equivalent to DCP, SP as the case may be. Therefore, now arrest can not be indiscriminately made in cases of Section 66A matters.

It is not a crime to like or share a controversial picture as long as the aggrieved person does not take any legal action against the person who liked or shared the picture or material. Therefore , the risk lies there in latent form. Further it is no defence that why other people are liking and sharing the material.

We hope this advice suffices your query. 

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