The Supreme Court of India has issued a stern reminder to social media users regarding the potential impact and far-reaching consequences of their online actions. This statement came as the apex court dismissed a petition filed by actor and former Tamil Nadu MLA, S Ve Shekher.
The actor had been facing legal challenges for sharing a Facebook post in 2018 that allegedly contained derogatory remarks against women journalists.
A bench comprising Justices B. R. Gavai and P. K. Mishra presided over the hearing of Shekher's plea against the July 14 order of the Madras High Court. The High Court had previously dismissed his petition, which sought to quash criminal proceedings related to the contentious Facebook post.
The bench emphasised the need for users to exercise caution when using social media platforms, stating, "If one uses social media, then he should be more careful about its impact and reach."
Derogatory Post and Apology
During the proceedings, Shekher's lawyer argued that his client was unable to read the contents of the post on the day he shared it due to a medical issue that required him to put medicine in his eyes.
The bench, however, stressed the importance of prudence when navigating the world of social media and noted that users must be vigilant about the potential repercussions of their online actions.
The court further articulated that if individuals choose to utilise social media, they must also be prepared to face the consequences of their posts. This sentiment reflects the growing recognition of the role social media plays in shaping public discourse and influencing societal attitudes.
The Madras High Court's earlier order had shed light on the nature of the controversial post. The court noted that Shekher had allegedly "published/circulated an abusive, derogatory and vulgar comment" on his Facebook account on April 19, 2018.
This action led to a complaint being filed before the Chennai Commissioner of Police, resulting in an FIR and private complaints filed against him across various parts of Tamil Nadu.
During the proceedings, Shekher's counsel contended that the actor was unaware of the post's contents when he shared it.The counsel stated that Shekher had promptly removed the offensive content from his account within hours and had subsequently sent an unconditional apology to the concerned women journalists and the media.
The Court's Reflections
The Madras High Court's order highlighted the profound impact of social media in today's interconnected world. The court expressed its reluctance to even translate the offensive message in question, describing it as "despicable" and "highly derogatory against the press as a whole in Tamil Nadu."
The High Court underscored the rapid dissemination of messages through social media, likening a shared post to an arrow already released from a bow, traversing the world at incredible speed.
The court's observations resonate with the growing awareness of social media's power and influence. As these platforms continue to shape public opinion, legal institutions are placing a heightened emphasis on responsible usage, especially for individuals in the public eye.
The Supreme Court's dismissal of S Ve Shekher's petition serves as a reminder that social media is not a realm free from accountability. While these platforms offer unprecedented connectivity, they also carry the weight of consequences for the content shared.
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