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Judiciary

What does “Thumbs up” emoji in WhatsApp mean in response to a crime? Madras HC explains [Read Judgment]

By Rintu Mariam Biju      13 March, 2024 07:37 PM      0 Comments
What does Thumbs up emoji in WhatsApp mean in response to a crime Madras HC explains

MADURAI: What does putting a “Thumbs up” emoji in WhatsApp mean especially when it’s in response to a brutal murder? This was one of the key issues that the Madras High Court had to deal with in a recent case. 

The Court was considering an appeal plea by the Indian Railway Department. 

In this case, a Constable of a Railway Protection Special Force challenged his order of removal from service for misconduct for putting “thumbs up” sign is response to a superior police officer’s brutal murder, on WhatsApp. A single bench of the High Court arrived at a finding that the petitioner had erroneously shared the “thumbs up” symbol and proceeded to direct the authorities to reinstate the petitioner without back wages. Aggrieved, the authorities filed for an appeal. 

Coming to the officer’s aid, a Division Bench of Justice Krishnakumar and R.Vijayakumar explained that the thumbs up signal could also be construed to be an alternative for the word “ OK”. Sharing the emoji can’t considered as celebrating of the brutal murder, but is it only an acknowledgement that the petitioner had seen the said message, the court added while dismissing the appeal. 

“The messages that was shared shared in the official Whatsapp group is about the brutal murder of an Assistant Commandant by a Constable in Mehalaya. The petitioner who was not so conversant with the Whatsapp, had shared an erroneous emoji of thumbs up signal. The said thumbs up signal could also be construed to be an alternative for the word “ OK”. Therefore, sharing of the said symbol could never be considered to be celebrating of the brutal murder, but is it only an acknowledgement of the fact that the petitioner had seen the said message. Therefore, the explanation offered by the writ petitioner is believable especially in the light of the fact that no other allegations have been made against him. The petitioner does not have any bad antecedents”

According to the Deputy Solicitor General appearing for the appellants, the writ petitioner being a member of Uniformed Service, he is expected to maintain high standard of discipline. A message relating to the brutal murder of a superior officer was circulated in the official Whatsapp group. 

On seeing the said message, the petitioner has put up 'thumbs up' message which is clearly a mark of celebrity and therefore, it is a misconduct. 
He had further contended that the learned Single Judge ought not to have interfered with the quantum of punishment which clearly in consonance with the misconduct. 

The counsel appearing for the respondent/writ petitioner had contended that by mistake the writ petitioner had put up “thumbs up” sign for the message. This signal was put up by him erroneously with no intention to affect the moral of the Uniformed Force or denigrating the higher official who was brutally killed. For the said mistake, a disproportionate punishment of removal from service has been ordered, he added. 

 

[Read Judgment] 
 



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