Mumbai

HC reserves judgment in Parachute vs influencer case

‘Single Bench completely missed the point’

The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved the judgment in an appeal filed by a social media influencer, Abhijeet Bhansali, against an order passed by another HC Bench to pull down a video posted by him on Parachute oil.

Social media influencers are those who have acquired a considerable follower base along with a degree of credibility in their respective space. Depending on the popularity of their field of expertise, their following can range from thousands to millions. These influencers often employ the goodwill they enjoy amongst their followers/viewers to promote a brand, persuade or dissuade viewers from purchasing a product.

Mr. Bhansali, a YouTuber/V Blogger, runs a channel called Bearded Chokra, on which he produces and uploads videos wherein he reviews products of various manufacturers. On September 1, 2018, he published a video, ‘Is Parachute Coconut Oil 100% Pure?’

According to Marico, which manufactures the oil, the video is disparaging and denigrating in nature, and it makes claims about Parachute’s edible oil, which are false and unsubstantiated.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing a commercial appeal filed by Mr. Bhansali against an order passed by a single Bench of Justice S.J. Kathawalla. The order was passed on January 15 directing Mr. Bhansali to take down/remove and/or block/restrict access to the video.

The court had earlier said, “Freedom of speech is considered above reputation even though both are fundamental rights. An opinion based on facts can be never be defamation.” According to it, what a social media influencer says is considered reality in modern world. “If the society trusts influencers, then that trust comes with a moral obligation,” it said.

In the last hearing, the Bench had also said the appeal filed by Mr. Bhansali needed to be entertained as the single judge appears to have laid down a law without laying down the principle. The court on Monday said the single judge had completely missed the point in the case, and reserved its judgment.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 5:05:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/hc-reserves-judgment-in-parachute-vs-influencer-case/article30787417.ece

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