Can’t stop circulation of judicial officer’s video without users’ numbers: WhatsApp to Delhi HC

In wake of the Delhi High Court ordering the taking down of sexually explicit video of a judicial officer, social media platforms on Friday told the court that they have removed the video and blocked several URLs.

However, WhatsApp, the Meta-owned instant messaging app, told the court that it is not possible to erase the video from the platform until unless it is provided with users’s phone numbers and the court’s order.

Appearing for WhatsApp, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that if they are provided with phone numbers, they will pull down the video if ordered by the court.

At this, the single judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma told the plantiff’s counsel Ashish Dixit, to provide the phone numbers so that WhatsApp can take requisite steps.

Justice Varma listed the matter for next hearing on February 8.

The WhatsApp argument took place when the court was hearing a plea by the woman present in the video, who is reportedly the judicial officer’s steno. She moved the court arguing that the video is fabricated.

The Delhi HC on late November 30, directed the Centre and social media platforms to ensure that the sexually explicit video of a judicial officer, which had gone viral on the internet on November 29, be not shared, distributed, forwarded or posted further.

Justice Varma had also asked for the video to be taken down and blocked from all ISPs, messaging platforms, and social media platforms.

“Bearing in mind the sexually explicit nature of the contents of that video and taking into consideration the imminent, grave and irreparable harm that is likely to be caused to the privacy rights of the plaintiff, an ad interim ex parte injunction is clearly warranted,” the court had said.

The plea had sought a permanent direction to restrain the social media platforms from publishing or telecasting the video in question.

The court had also observed that the provisions under Section 354C of IPC as well as Section 67A of the Information and Technology Act “would appear to be violated” if further circulation, sharing and distribution of the video wasn’t restrained.

20221209-200802

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