As we can see that nowadays one is on social media. Social media has become a platform where any information could be gathered against any public figure or an organization. The expanse of technology has blurred the confines of geographical boundaries. Thus in turn it brings forth new issues for the laws to address. In the case of Swami Ramdev & Ors. Vs Facebook Inc. & Ors. The Delhi High Court took to examine the characteristics and viability of a Global Injunction, particularly with the role of intermediaries under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
In a case Swami Ramdev Vs Juggernaut Books Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. There was a book titled “Godman To Tycoon the untold story of Baba Ramdev” which was published by M/s Juggernaut Books Private limited (Defendant). In this the plaintiff claimed that the book which was published by the Defendant contains some defamatory and derogatory things that affects the character/ image/ reputation of the plaintiff. Therefore, they moved to court urging their plea. The Ld. Single Judge, vude judgement dated 29.09.2018, has restrained the publisher and the author from publishing, distributing and selling the book without deleting the offending portions.
Thereafter defedants appealed in Hon’ble Supreme Court against the decision of Delhi High Court, and the decision is still pending in Supreme court till date. The Defendant after the decision of Delhi High Court had deleted the offending portion from the book and from all social media platforms and removed all the concerned URL and web-links for the India Domain. However, they opposed the imposition of an order of global blocking of the videos/content.
The Plaintiff further argued that the court can exercise its extraterritorial jurisdiction and has the power to impose global injunction according to the judgement of Shreya Singhal Vs Union Of India. The Defendants on the contrary argued that-
- Laws with respect to jurisdiction and interpretation of public interest vary across jurisdictions and a global disabling order would be contrary to the principle of comity of courts and would result in a conflict of laws.
- Relying on the preservation of freedom of speech and expression on the internet, the Defendants argued that the facts do not merit an extreme measure of a global injunction, in as much as the imposition of a global ban would result in muzzling dissent.
- The court should impose measures, commensurate to the danger or damage alleged and should resort to a global injunction only in exceptional cases. Further not having impleaded, either the publisher or the persons who have uploaded the video, the plaintiff was guilty of misjoinder/ non-joinder of necessary and proper parties.
It was argued by the defendant counsel that the author or publisher of the book and the person who have uploaded the videos has not been impleaded as a necessary party in the case. The court dismissed the objection, by helding that publishers and authors were not directly referred to with the ongoing case. Therefore, impleading them as a party is not necessary. The bone of contention in the present case was with respect to the offending video and the other related content, which were admittedly derived from the book and had been uploaded on various links on the defendant’s platform.
Whether a case of defamation was made out?
Based on the decision held by the Delhi High Court, the Court considers that publishing more copies of books is in violation of the judgement of Hon’ble High Court. Therefore, whether the content of the video was defamatory in nature or not an issue in the present case.
While the defendants compiled with the imposition on national level injunction or geo blocking which means that it should be blocked country to country or from region to region. The grievance, therein, lies on the basis that the content would as such be available on the platforms of other countries, accessible in other countries, perhaps even in the regions under injunction by use of various applications. Comparing the laws of various jurisdictions, the Ld. Judge examined the leading decisions on the issue:
In Google LLC Vs. Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the European Union Of Justice addressed CNIL challenge that Google’s Geo-Blocking was insufficient to curb the concerning violations. It was observed by the court that-
“…..in a globalised world, internet users’ access- including those outside the union- to the referencing of a link referring to information regarding a person whose centre of interest i situated in the union is thus likely to have immediate and substantial effects on that person within the union itself.”
The court held that Indian courts have jurisdiction to order a global injunction.
While we can say that the Global injunction would appear to be the ultimate remedy to ensure the effectiveness of injunction orders, the imposition must be weighed with the subject matter. Subjects like intellectual property laws, being territorial in nature, must merit a higher security to draw functions of global nature and the discussed decision may in fact serve as an impetus to the use of this principle in other subject areas.