Case Title: Fr Geevarghese John @ Subin John v The State of Kerala
A single bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan of Kerala High Court while quashing the proceedings against the man, held that merely editing photos and posting it on social media cannot be an offence under section 120(o) of Kerala Police Act.
“If this Court started to hold that all these Facebook posts amount to an offence under Section 120(o) of the Kerala Police Act, 2011, almost all posts made on Facebook is to be declared as an offence under Section 120(o) of the Kerala Police Act”.
The appeal was filed by the one Jacobite church priest challenging the decision of the Magistrate Court for granting permission to file a case against him under section 120 (o) of the Kerala Police Act.
The background of the case is, the complainant who is a priest from the Orthodox church, sat on a hunger strike along with 35 priests from the Malankara Orthodox Church holding a banner.
The complainant alleged that when he along with 35 priests from the Malankara Orthodox Church sat on a hunger strike holding a banner, the appellant edited the photo showing the hunger strike and the wording of the banner was changed by him.
Justice said that to attract an offence, the accused has to cause a nuisance to any other persons.
“The defamatory Facebook posts continue to do the rounds on Facebook and other social media platforms. There is no proper punishment for such defamatory statements and posters on Facebook. The legislature must look into this aspect seriously, especially in the backdrop of this new era of technology and social media mania in existence in our society”, the Court said.
The bench found that the post which was posted by appellant was just a manipulated photo, hence not attract the offence which is alleged by the complainant.
Hence, the bench allowed the appeal of the appellant and quashed the proceedings pending before the magistrate court.