Google can be prosecuted for defamation if complaint made before amendment in IT Act: SC

The top court's ruling came on a plea by Google India, seeking quashing of defamation complaint initiated prior to the amendments in the IT Act.

Published: 10th December 2019 11:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th December 2019 09:57 AM   |  A+A-


Google India had sought quashing of the defamation complaint initiated prior to the amendments in the IT Act. (File Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that intermediaries like Google can’t claim any protection for the posting of defamatory contents before the 2009 amendment into Section 79 of the IT Act.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K M Joseph asked Google India to face trial in a criminal defamation case by rejecting its plea of immunity from liability as an internet intermediary. The court said that before the amendment was made to Section 79 of the IT Act in 2009, a network service provider was protected only from liability under the IT Act. The protection did not extend to liabilities arising under other enactments, before the amendment.

The order came on a criminal defamation complaint filed by Visakha Industries, a company making asbestos sheets in 2009 against an individual for publishing articles against it in a group Ban Asbestos which was hosted in the Google Groups services provided by Google. Google India was also made a party in the case.

Google approached the Andhra Pradesh HC seeking to quash the complaint saying it had no liability over the defamatory articles being an intermediary under Section 79 of the IT Act. Google said that it was neither an author nor a publisher of the blog. The HC refused to quash proceedings.


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