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MP High Court Directs Compliance with Journalistic Standards while Ordering Removal of Defamatory Posts

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Published on: December 06, 2023 at 17:45 IST

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has issued strict directives to social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and YouTube, instructing them to delete objectionable content targeting Hindu religious preacher Acharya Dhirendra Krishna Shastri.

Justice Sanjay Dwivedi, presiding over a single-judge bench, emphasized that any posts related to Acharya should adhere to journalistic norms.

As an interim measure, the court mandated that the veracity of such news and posts must be verified by local media channels and social media platforms.

The assessment will consider whether the posts are damaging to the leader’s image, in accordance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The court specifically stated, “…posts already displayed in electronic media, which tarnishes the image of Aacharya Shri Dhirendra Krishna Shastri shall be deleted forthwith.”

The matter is scheduled for a return of notice in the week commencing from 08.01.2024.

The petitioner, Ranjit Singh Patel, alleged that the circulated posts about Acharya are not only defamatory but also malign the image of Peethadheeshwar of Shri Bageshwar Dham, Chhatarpur. The petitioner provided certain posts and news articles about Acharya that were allegedly derogatory.

According to the petitioner, the 10th respondent, R.D. Prajapati, an ex-MLA, colluded with others to deliberately tarnish Acharya’s image. The petitioner claimed that Prajapati, an OBC rights activist, orchestrated the dissemination of objectionable posts, directly impacting religious reverence and hurting the sentiments of Acharya’s disciples.

The petitioner’s counsel, Pankaj Dubey, referred to Rule 2 and Rule 3 of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, emphasizing the responsibility of social media intermediaries in verifying the veracity of news before publication.

Despite representations made to authorities, no action was taken, leading to the filing of the current petition.

Case Title: Ranjit Singh Patel v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh And Ors.