13 Sep 2023 6:40 AM GMT
The Madras High Court has observed that expressing adverse views on platforms like Google Review for the services received by a person would not amount to defamation of the service provider, as it is covered under the freedom of speech and expression in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. “The Court below has rightly observed that the right to free speech expressed under...
The Madras High Court has observed that expressing adverse views on platforms like Google Review for the services received by a person would not amount to defamation of the service provider, as it is covered under the freedom of speech and expression in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
“The Court below has rightly observed that the right to free speech expressed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India covers such expression of one's review for the services received in an Online platform such as Google Review and sharing of review in the Google Review by the 1 st respondent does not amount to defaming the petitioner,” the court observed.
Justice V Sivagnanam noted that the internet is a free platform and an important means of expression and communication. He added that though posting or canvassing false statements/remarks that are derogatory in nature would amount to defamation, mere expression of views in Google reviews would not amount to defamation.
“Defamation is defined as the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual or entity. Therefore, posting or canvassing false statements/remarks derogatory in nature, causing harm to the reputation of any individual or entity in the social media, would certainly amount to defamation. But mere expressing views in Google Review about the services that were received by the 1 st respondent, in my opinion, does not amount to defamation,” the court said.
The court was hearing a criminal revision petition filed by an Advocate, seeking to set aside an order passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Coimbatore dismissing his complaint against one of his former clients who, according to him had posted defamatory remarks against him in his Google Search Engine after availing his services and had thereby committed the offence of defamation.
The client on the other hand submitted that she had merely expressed her opinion regarding the services rendered by the advocate which were not satisfactory. She added that the second respondent was her father and even though he had tendered an apology on behalf of his daughter, the complainant-advocate had arrayed him as accused without any material, which was not maintainable.
The court noted that the respondent client had expressed her views, after not getting services up to her expectations. The court further noted that if false or fake reviews were posted, the Lawyer could very well defend or attack such reviews, claiming them to be baseless. Further, it said that after seeing the client's negative reviews, there was a likelihood that other clients who received good and satisfactory services from the lawyer would post their reviews, denying the negative reviews.
Thus, the court noted that the Magistrate Court had dealt with the issue rightly and there were no prima facie allegations made out against the respondents to proceed against them for defamation.
Counsel for the Petitioner:. Mr.M.Pugazhendhi
Counsel for the Respondents: Mr.G.Karthikeyan, SC for M/s.M.Jagadeeswari
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 263
Case Title: VP Sarathi v Kiruthigha