The judgement read, “When a member registered with Facebook changes the privacy settings to ‘public’ from ‘private’, it makes his/her writings on the ‘wall’ accessible not only to the other members who are befriended by the author of the writings on the “wall”, but also by any other member registered with Facebook. However, even if privacy settings are retained by a Facebook member as “private”, making of an offending post by the member – which falls foul of Section under Section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act—may still be punishable.”The judgement, however, clearly said that there would be no prosecution if the complainant and the offender on the social media platform are related to each other. The ruling opined that “public view” refers to “a place where public persons are present – howsoever small in number they may be.” It also pointed out that the insult or humiliation does not need to be done in the presence of the said member according to the sections of SC/ST Act – the action would remain culpable under the law.
“Keeping this in view, looking to the aims and objects of the Act, the expression “public view” in Section 3(i)(x) of the Act has to be interpreted to mean that the public persons present, (howsoever small number it may be), should be independent and impartial and not interested in any of the parties. In other words, persons having any kind of close relationship or association with the complainant, would necessarily get excluded,” said the judgement.Therefore, the FIR lodged by the petitioner was quashed by the HC, but the court clarified that if the offensive comments have been directed at a community in general and not to a particular person, the ruling will not stand in that case.