Sunday, January 15, 2012

How Would Google, Facebook, Microsoft And Yahoo Approach Delhi High Court?

Recently the Indian government granted its approval to criminally prosecute companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo for posting objectionable contents on their websites. Indian government claims that despite repetitive requests being made to these websites, they failed to remove the objectionable contents from their websites.

Before that companies like Google and Facebook approached the Delhi High Court to quash the complaint against them. However, the Delhi High Court refused to do so and this cleared the way for continuance of the complaint against these companies. With the granting of sanction by central government under section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, the criminal trial against these companies can now be started for diverse offenses under Indian laws.

The trial court has adjourned the matter till March 13, 2012. The trial court has also directed the external affairs ministry to serve the summons issued to foreign-based social networking and other websites. With this the excuse of being an Indian subsidiary is also gone and now parent companies would have to face the heat and their executives have to appear personally before the trial court. Now the Delhi Police can also prosecute these parent companies after the sanction has been received.

The representatives of companies may or may not appear before the trial court. If they appear, they have to face the trial and prove their innocence as per Indian laws. If they do not appear, this may have serious ramifications that these companies cannot afford to face.

On 16th January 2012 the Delhi High Court would hear further arguments of these companies. However, it seems the matter would not be settled easily and lightly by Delhi High Court. Techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal have been warning against unconstitutional cyber laws in India. He was the only cyber law expert of India who protested against the information technology amendment act 2008 (IT Act 2008) in its present form that is root of all present cyber law related distortions in India.

According to Praveen Dalal, the cyber law of India should be repealed. There is no second opinion about the fact that the cyber law of India needs urgent reforms if not a repeal. However, the companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc cannot complain now when they did not complain earlier at the time of IT Act 2008, opines Praveen Dalal. Now the IT Act 2000, as amended by the IT Act 2008, is the law of the land and these companies must follow the same, suggests Dalal.

It seems these companies are in hot water as they have not complied with Indian cyber laws requirements and now they cannot turn back and question the very same cyber law that they silently endorsed earlier.