In an order passed on November 29, the Delhi High Court has refused to hold the administrator of a Google group liable for allegedly defamatory statements made by members on the group. The order was passed by Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw in a defamation plea..The petitioner had sought damages against the administrator of a Telegram and Google group on which the allegedly defamatory statements were made..The Court held that making an administrator of an online group liable for defamation would be akin to making the manufacturer of the newsprint, on which defamatory statements are published, liable for defamation..“I am unable to understand as to how the Administrator of a Group can be held liable for defamation even if any, by the statements made by a member of the Group. .To make an Administrator of an online platform liable for defamation would be like making the manufacturer of the newsprint on which defamatory statements are published liable for defamation”, the Court said..The High Court made it clear an administrator cannot be held liable for defamatory statements of members especially since the Administrator’s prior approval is not required to post statements on the group..“When an online platform is created, the creator thereof cannot expect any of the members thereof to indulge in defamation and defamatory statements made by any member of the group cannot make the Administrator liable therefor.. It is not as if without the Administrator’s approval of each of the statements, the statements cannot be posted by any of the members of the Group on the said platform.”.It is interesting to note that different States had recently issued circulars making Whatsapp group administrators liable for the posts/ statements in the groups..The district magistrate of Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir had issued a circular on April 18 this year requiring the administrators of “WhatsApp news groups” and “social media news agencies” to register their groups at the District Social Media Centre. The circular further stated that group admins will be liable for any posts on the groups. A similar circular was issued in Dumka, Jharkhand..The scope of the order by the Delhi High Court is, however, debatable considering the fact that a limited issue was under discussion, and there are several related aspects that continue to remain unclear..Bar & Bench spoke to advocate Apar Gupta who had this to say:.“For fixing any liability on the administrator, there has to be some allegation that the administrator was part of the conspiracy for furtherance of some illegal act. In the absence of any conspiracy by the Group administrator, or any positive role by the group administrator in the message which is sent, he cannot be made liable..This order is limited specifically to the pleadings made before the court by the plaintiff. The plaintiff has not categorically pleaded anything on the nature and purpose of the group or alleged the group to be illegal per se.”.However, can a group admin be held liable for posts in the group since he has no right to exercise pre-censorship?.“A lot of groups itself are formed for various illegal objects. The intent of the group itself can be furtherance of an illegal act. For instance, let us say a group is made for the purpose of organising an armed attack. The administrator of the group might not take part in the armed attack but he is part of the conspiracy”, says Apar Gupta..Read the order below.