In the Matter at hand Kishor Pandurang Landkar v. State of Maharashtra & Anr. a request to overturn a criminal complaint filed under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act due to an allegedly offensive WhatsApp status. In a WhatsApp status update from last March, Landkar is accused of asking a query to be searched on Google and warning that the results of the search will be upsetting.
Submission From Parties
According to Landkar, the WhatsApp status was only intended to be read by his contacts and was not designed to offend any particular group of people. Landkar denied maintaining the status with the goal to offend any one class. The fact that the status could only be viewed by a restricted group of people who knew his phone number further demonstrated his effort to not hurt anyone’s feelings.
According to the complainant, when performing a Google search, content that would offend a religious group was displayed, which led him to lodge a first information report against Landkar.
Analysis of Court Order
A request to have a criminal case filed under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act over an allegedly objectionable WhatsApp status was rejected by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, a division bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki Sa Menezes, who found that the accused, Kishore Landkar, had no defence for posting the allegedly objectionable WhatsApp status.
The Court emphasised that as WhatsApp is a form of communication that is periodically examined by others, users should use caution while posting status updates on the app. Further, the bench stated that the sole intent of a user’s WhatsApp status is to inform his contacts of anything. It is only a method of communicating with people you already know. One posts a status to elicit a response, and the majority of people do so because they need encouragement. Nowadays, individuals frequently check their WhatsApp status. When speaking with people, one should conduct themselves responsibly. By complaining about its restricted distribution, the petitioner cannot escape his primary obligation. The applicant has no grounds for displaying this sort of status.
The court determined that the police report had, at least on the surface, indicated that the accused had intended to intentionally and maliciously offend a group of persons. The Court also highlighted that the probe was still in its early stages and that Landkar had not refuted posting the ostensibly offensive WhatsApp status. Due to this, the Court dismissed Landkar’s argument.
CASE NAME – Kishor Pandurang Landkar v. State of Maharashtra & Anr.Criminal Application NO. 787/2023