In a recent development, the Delhi High Court issued an order mandating the removal of YouTube videos that falsely claimed popular candy Pulse could lead to cancer. The ruling, in the case of Dharampal Satyapal Foods Limited v. Study Lover & Ors, was delivered by Justice Prathiba M Singh, who also directed Google to unveil the identities of those responsible for uploading the contentious videos.
Justice Singh, while recognizing the importance of the right to freedom of speech, emphasized that such claims must be substantiated by credible test reports. The Court asserted that the creation of groundless fears, especially regarding approved products, is impermissible. It cautioned against sensationalizing information, noting that it could result in unnecessary panic.
The legal proceedings stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Dharampal Satyapal Foods Limited against videos containing allegedly “defamatory and objectionable” allegations regarding its product, Pulse candy. The plaintiff informed the court that Ashu Ghai, operating an educational YouTube channel, initially uploaded a video conducting experiments to assert that Pulse candy could cause cancer. Despite Ghai agreeing to delete the video in response to a cease-and-desist notice, the plaintiff claimed that he merely made the video private, leading to subsequent uploads by other users.
Justice Singh acknowledged that such content could serve to raise awareness about product safety, but also cautioned that it might sometimes be orchestrated by competitors. The Court, considering Ghai’s acknowledgment that the video was misleading, ruled that no one else had the entitlement to repost the video or its truncated versions. Consequently, the Court ordered the removal of the videos in question.
However, the judgment clarified that users remained free to upload factual videos against Pulse candy, provided they adhered to a standard of truthfulness and abstained from sensationalizing content based on third-party-issued, scientifically verifiable test reports.
Advocates Pravin Anand, Vaishali Mittal, Siddhant Chamola, Shivang Sharma, and Gitanjali Sharma represented the plaintiff in this legal action, while Advocates Mamta Rani Jha, Rohan Ahuja, Shruttima Ehersa, and Amisha Sodani represented one of the defendants. The ruling highlights the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the responsibility to prevent the dissemination of misleading information.