Allahabad High Court recently noted that merely liking an obscene post on Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter) would not amount to an offence but sharing or retweeting that post would constitute an offence under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.
Sharing and retweeting such information will be considered as “transmission” under Section 67 of IT Act and therefore will attract penal consequences.
Merely liking an offensive post would not amount to publishing or “transmitting” such material, Justice Arun Kumar Singh Deshwal noted.
The High Court bench noted, “A post or message can be said to be published when it is posted, and a post or message can be said to be transmitted when it is shared or retweeted … Liking a post will not amount to publishing or transmitting the post, therefore, merely liking a post will not attract Section 67 IT Act.”
The bench was hearing a petition filed by a man accused of posting provocative messages on social media. The police alleged that those messages led to the assembly of over 600-700 persons of the Muslim community.
The counsel representing the petitioner under accusation argued that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the petitioner had committed an offence.
The Investigating Officer cited an allegedly offensive post that had been favorably received by the petitioner.
The Court examined whether Section 67 of the IT Act will be applicable here or not. The Court concluded that this provision applies only when any person publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which tends to deprave and corrupt persons who read, see or hear the message.
The Court held that only liking a post would not amount to posting or transmitting the content and therefore, would not amount to an offence under Section 67 of the IT Act. Also, the bench noted that Section 67 applies to “obscene” material and not provocative posts.
“The words ‘lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest’ mean relating to sexual interest and desire, therefore, Section 67 I.T. Act does not prescribe any punishment for other provocative material,” the Court said.
Thus, the bench found no material against the accused and quashed the proceedings against him.