SABU MATHEW GEORGE VS UNION OF INDIA & ORS.

wc34108

WP(C) 341/20081
ITEM NO.23 COURT NO.5 SECTION PIL
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Writ Petition (Civil) No.341 of 2008
SABU MATHEW GEORGE Petitioner(s)
VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. Respondent(s)
Date : 04/12/2014 This petition was called on for hearing today.
CORAM :
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE DIPAK MISRA
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE UDAY UMESH LALIT

For Petitioner(s) Mr. Sanjay Parikh, Adv.
Mr. Ritwik Parikh, Adv.
Mr. A.N. Singh, Adv.
Ms. Manjula Gupta, AOR

For Respondent(s) Mr. Shyam Divan, Sr. Adv.
No.3 Mr. Sajan Poovayya, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Sumit Attri, Adv.
Mr. Praveen Sehrawat, Adv.
Mr. Pratyush Panjwani, Adv.
Mr. Mahesh Agarwal, Adv.
Mr. Rishi Agrawala, Adv.
Ms. Priyadarshi Banerjee, Adv.
Mr. E. C. Agrawala, AOR
For R-4 Mr. Anupam Lal Das, AOR
For R-5 Mr. K.V. Vishwanathan, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Anuj Berry, Adv.
Mr. Tanuj Bhushan, Adv.
for M/s Suresh A. Shroff & Co.
For R-2 Mr. Arvind Kumar Sharma, AOR
For R-1 Ms. Binu Tamta, Adv.
Ms. Gunwant Dar, Adv.
Mr. D. S. Mahra, AORWP(C) 341/2008

UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following
O R D E R
It is submitted by Mr. Sanjay Parikh, learned
counsel appearing for the petitioner that despite the legal
prohibition, the respondents, namely, Google India, Yahoo
India and Mocrosoft Corporation (I) Pvt. Ltd., are still
getting things advertised in violation of the legal
provisions contained in the Pre-conception and Pre-natal
Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act,
1994, as amended from time to time. Learned counsel would
submit that the Department of Information Technology,
Ministry of Communication and Information and the competent
authority of Department of Health and Family Welfare are
required to work harmoniously to see to it that the
provisions of the 1994 Act are not violated, for that gravely
affects the sex ratio in the country which has been seriously
viewed by the legislature, as well as by this Court on the
basis of legislation made by the Parliament.
Mr. Shyam Divan, learned senior counsel appearing
for the respondent No3, Mr. Anupam Lal Das, learned counsel
appearing for the respondent No.4 and Mr. K.V. Vishwanathan,
learned senior counsel appearing for the respondent No.5,
pray for some time to file their respective replies to the
rejoinder affidavit filed by the petitioner. WP(C) 341/2008
3

Before we proceed to deal with the prayer for grant
of time, we think it is obligatory to take note of one
aspect. The Group Coordinator, Cyber Laws Formulation and
Enforcement Division, Government of India, Department of
Information Technology, had filed a counter affidavit on
16th August, 2010. We are compelled to reproduce a part of
the said affidavit:
“3(e) While submitting this, it is further
to submit that technological limitations pose a
difficult task for providers of search engines
to filter out/block the information violating
the law. It is important to distinguish
between two types of results that show up on a
search engine.
(i) Organic Search results –
When a user enters a query in the search box a
list of results that are most relevant to the
users query are shown. In generating these
results the search engine nearly indexes the
information that is publicly available and
accessible on the Internet in a purely
authomated manner. These search results are
merely a list of third party independent
website that are beyond the control and
management of search engines themselves.
(ii) Sponsored links –
Sponsored links referred to the advertisements
placed by advertisers after accepting the terms
and conditions of use. These links advertise
the goods and services offered by any WP(C) 341/2008
4
advertiser and upon clicking on the URL, take
the user to the parent website of the
advertiser where the user can find more
information on the particular product or
service that he/she is interested in.
(f) The service provider/search engines only
provide the carriage, technology for indexing
information. The content information is
provided by others. Wherever the service
provider is providing only the carriage and
transmission mechanism and not the
contents/information, it is necessary that the
distinction needs to be made between a service
provider and a content provider. The service
provider can only be liable to the extent
service provided by him. Wherever the service
provider/search engines are providing both
carriage as well as contents, it should be
their absolute responsibility to filter
out/block the violated information and
sponsored links.
X X X X X

(s) The pre-natal sex determination is an
offence in India under PC & PNDT Act. However,
it may not be an offence in other countries.
The information published on the websites is
generally aimed at for wider, world wide
dissemination and caters to the needs to many
countries and may not be for the Indian
citizens. Also, most of these websites are
hosted outside the country. Blocking of such
sites advertising pre-natal sex determinaton
may not be feasible due to their hosting WP(C) 341/2008
5
outside the country. Moreover, some of the
websites provide good content for medical
education and therefore blocking of such
websites may not be desirable.”
As we understand from the affidavit, it reflects a
kind of helplessness by the said deponent. That apart, we do
not appreciate the manner in which the stand has been
expressed in paragraph (s) of the counter affidavit, that has
been reproduced hereinabove.
Mr. Parikh, learned counsel for the petitioner, in
his turn, has submitted that other countries have been able
to control such advertisements, which violate the laws of
their countries by way of entering into certain kind of
agreement, developing technical tools and issuing appropriate
directions.
In our considered opinion, an effort has to be made
to see that nothing contrary to laws of this country are
advertised or shown on these websites. However, for the said
purpose, we would like to have the assistance from the
competent authority from the Department of Information and
Technology. We would request Mr. Ranjit Kumar, learned
Solicitor General to assist us on the next date, being
assisted by a competent officer, as it involves technical
issues.
Learned counsel for the respondent Nos.3 to 5 have
submitted that the websites do not violate the laws of India, WP(C) 341/2008
6
but as they provide a corridor, they do not have any control.
Be that as it may, a legal solution has to be arrived at.
List the matter on 15th December, 2014. As agreed
to by the learned counsel appearing for the parties, let the
matter be taken up at 2.00 p.m.
Liberty to file reply, as prayed for by learned
counsel appearing for the respondent Nos.3 to 5, within a
week hence.
Call on date fixed.

(Chetan Kumar)
Court Master
(H.S. Parasher)
Court Master

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