CHENNAI: At a time when the Supreme Court has struck down Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act, an arrest warrant issued by a Magistrate Court in Chennai against a software professional for ‘liking’ a Facebook meme that allegedly poked fun at women, has triggered a controversy.
The person, who posted the meme, has also been arraigned as an accused.
The complainant, a woman lawyer, is related to one of the accused with whose family she reportedly had a dispute.
It all began on Facebook when a Bengaluru-based software professional Aditya Raman on March 15 posted the meme set in the backdrop of a scene involving popular Kollywood comedian Vadivelu reportedly poking fun at women, referring to them as a burden on men.
A Chennai-based software professional Balaji Kumar (27), hit the ‘like’ button on the post.
Contending that the post had outraged the modesty of women in general, an advocate Nalinishree submitted a complaint to an IT company, in which Aditya and Balaji were employed. She also approached the State Women’s Commission and thereafter submitted a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner of Police on March 27, seeking action against the duo.
Incidentally, Balaji’s father-in-law S Sundarrajan is Nalnishree’s older brother.
While the police desisted from filing a case in view of the Supreme Court quashing Section 66A of the IT Act and advising caution in arresting anyone for posting messages in social media, Nalinishree moved the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the police to register an FIR.
The Cyber Cell inspector, who enquired into her complaint, informed the court that the petition was closed. Accordingly, the High Court disposed of the petition on April 29, while granting the petitioner liberty to work out her remedies in the manner known to law.
Nalinishree then moved the Metropolitan Magistrate at Saidapet and secured an order in her favour making out various offences against the accused, including stalking and insulting the modesty of a woman.
Since Balaji, who is now in the US, did not appear in the court, the Magistrate issued an arrest warrant against him on June 26.
On Friday, Aditya, who appeared before the court, contended through his counsel N Raja Sentoor Pandian that the very complaint is malicious and he was falsely implicated in the case. Advocate Karthikeyan, who represented Balaji, alleged that the complainant was acting with an ulterior motive to take revenge against Sundarrajan, following a dispute. Recording the submissions, XI Metropolitan Magistrate L Abraham Lincoln posted the matter to August 14.
Meanwhile, sitting at his house, Sundarrajan claimed that Nalinishree had a dispute over a property deal with him six months ago. “Ever since that she has been trying to pressure us unnecessarily. My son-in-law is being harassed though the police had earlier felt that the complaint itself was malicious. We are sure this case will not stand legal scrutiny,” he claimed.