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    Can a Retweet be Criminal? Supreme Court Extends Stay on Arvind Kejriwal’s Defamation Proceedings

    The Supreme Court on May 13 extended the stay on defamation proceedings against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for retweeting YouTuber Dhruv Rathee’s video that made certain allegations against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT Cell, according to a report by LiveLaw.

    A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta adjourned the matter until August 12 and granted time for the parties to explore settlement.

    According to the LiveLaw report, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, had informed the Court on February 26 that Kejriwal was ready to admit that retweeting was a mistake. In March, the Court suggested that the complainant provide the format of apology and, if the parties fail to settle the matter, the Court will take up the legal issue of whether retweeting constitutes a criminal offence.

    What’s the case about?

    Kejriwal is facing a defamation complaint filed by one Vikas Sankritayan, who runs a social media page ‘I Support Narendra Modi,’ for retweeting a tweet by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee in 2018. Rathee had published on his X account (Twitter then) a link to his video wherein he alleged that the BJP IT Cell had bribed an individual to defame Rathee. The video in question also contained remarks against the page ‘I Support Narendra Modi’. Sankritayan has alleged that Kejriwal, who is followed by a large number of people, retweeted the “said defamatory content” without checking the authenticity of the video. In doing so, the complainant said that he has transmitted the defamatory content to “large number of audiences, at national and international level”.

    Delhi HC’s quashes Arvind Kejriwal’s plea:

    Kejriwal had approached the Delhi High Court against the summons issued to him in 2019. The HC in February refused to quash the summons and held that retweeting content, alleged to be defamatory, would amount to publication of such content, thereby attracting liability under Section 499, dealing with the offence of defamation, under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Court also observed that in the case of multiple retweets, it is upon the aggrieved person to decide as to which retweet caused more harm to their reputation.

    While pronouncing the order, the Court examined whether the mere act of retweeting would constitute an offence under Section 499, the scope of freedom of speech of expression, and the role of social media reach or socio-political standing of the person retweeting or posting in determining the impact of an alleged defamatory content. Read a detailed report of the Delhi HC here.

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    The post Can a Retweet be Criminal? Supreme Court Extends Stay on Arvind Kejriwal’s Defamation Proceedings appeared first on MediaNama.

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