No Protection For Intermediary Under Sec 79 IT Act From Criminal Defamation Before 2009 Amendment


The Supreme Court asked Google India to face trial in a criminal defamation case by rejecting its plea of immunity from liability as an internet intermediary.

The Apex court said that before the amendment made to Section 79 of the Information Technology 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, prior to 2009 amendment.

On this reasoning, it was held that Google India could not claim immunity from liability for criminal defamation under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, in a complaint which arose before the 2009 amendment.

The High Court refused to quash the proceedings. The HC observed that if an intermediary failed to take action against an objectionable post despite being notified of it by the aggrieved person, it will be liable under IT Act. The HC found that Google did not “move its little finger” despite the notice from the complainant. Therefore, it could not claim any exemption under Section 79 IT Act, the HC held.