Can a company deriving commercial benefits from India and having direct business connections in India deny its liability under Indian laws simply because it is a subsidiary company? This question would come up for hearing before the Supreme Court of India on Monday.
There are many incidences in India where social media websites and foreign companies like Google have failed to comply with Indian laws despite clear cut obligations to do so. Till now companies like Google have been exploiting the loopholes of Indian laws to escape their liability. This may no more be possible in India from now onwards.
The crucial Google’s online defamation case of India has finally reached the stage of hearing before the Supreme Court of India. This is a landmark case as it would establish the liability of foreign companies for their acts that are violative of India laws.
For too long companies like Google, Facebook, etc have been violating Indian laws and they are also denying any liability under the same citing American laws. However, it is difficult to accept this proposition as when these companies have Indian connections and they are targeting Indian audience, it is unjustified to say that they are not governed by Indian laws.
In fact, New Delhi base ICT law firm Perry4Law has suggested that all Subsidiary/Joint Ventures Companies in India, especially those dealing in Information Technology and Online Environment, must mandatorily establish a server in India. Otherwise, such Companies and their Websites should not be allowed to operate in India. The Ministry of Home Affairs, India and Intelligence Bureau (IB) are already exploring this possibility.
Techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal have also suggested that a “Stringent Liability” for Indian Subsidiaries dealing in Information Technology and Online Environment must be established by Laws of India. More stringent online advertisement and e-commerce provisions must be formulated for Indian Subsidiary Companies and their Websites.
Google has already lost the case in Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2011 and it has appealed to the Supreme Court. If Google loses again it will be held “Criminally Liable” for violation of various Indian Laws, including the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Information Technology Act, 2000.