Facebook India, Google, YouTube and Twitter India were on Tuesday restrained by the Delhi High Court from publishing or showing any derogatory photographs of expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa after she alleged that some unknown persons were threatening to tarnish her image by uploading her morphed photos and videos.
Justice R.K. Gauba also asked these social media platforms to pull down her photos immediately, observing that “such alleged material is likely to cause irreversible grave and irreparable prejudice to the fair name and reputation of the plaintiff”.
“While issuing notice to the defendants, (Facebook India, Google, YouTube India and Twitter India) injunction is granted in favour of the plaintiff.
“The defendants are restrained from publishing, broadcasting, distributing or disseminating in any form or manner whatsoever any defamatory material including the purported photograph…referred in this plaint, relating to or arising from, in connection with any alleged acts or behavior relatable to the plaintiff,” the court said, making it clear that the defendants were obliged to take steps to remove such photographs.
The court’s order came on a plea by the Rajya Sabha MP who has sought injunction order against the four platforms on the ground that they have not made any attempt to verify the authenticity of the photographs before uploading it.
Senior advocate Sachin Puri, appearing for Ms. Pushpa, alleged that after she refused to resign as a party MP, some unknown persons threatened that they would distribute the pictures to all media houses and upload them on social media, which would severely defame and embarrass her.
“It is to victimise me and throw me out of the party,” she argued through her counsel.
Ms. Pushpa, who was expelled from AIADMK on August 1, 2016, said in her plea that the issue arose after she informed Parliament that she had been slapped by an AIADMK leader in Chennai and was facing death threats.
She also said that a false complaint was filed against her and her family members for allegedly ill-treating and sexually abusing two domestic aides in the year 2011.
Her counsel said she was protected from arrest in the case by the Supreme Court, which has asked her to join the probe.
The plea filed through advocate D. Abhinav Rao stated that on September 19, 2016 Ms. Pushpa received a phone call with the caller saying he would update few photographs and videos on YouTube and cause physical and mental harm to her.
“The person threatened her to resign from her constitutional post or else he will start spreading false rumours and allegations against plaintiff, including false statements regarding her moral character. Further, he will also upload lot of pictures on social media,” the plea said.
It said these acts violate her fundamental rights under the Constitution.
“Such conduct has been actuated by malice against the plaintiff. The above said acts tantamount to blatant scandal-mongering and are per se defamatory as they seek to denigrate both the plaintiff and harm her impeccable reputation in the public estimation,” the plea added.