Court dismisses case against Yahoo India

A Yahoo banner at an India cricket match Yahoo says there is no document to show that its website has violated any law

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The Delhi High Court has dismissed a criminal case against Yahoo India which was accused of hosting "objectionable" content on its web pages.

Yahoo was among 21 web firms, including Facebook and Google, accused of hosting material that could cause communal unrest.

Yahoo says there is no document to show that its website has violated any law.

The case was launched by journalist Vinay Rai. A separate civil lawsuit against the internet firms continues.

Judges in India have threatened to block sites that fail to crack down on offensive content.

Last month, Facebook and Google said they had complied with the court directive and removed "objectionable" material.

Late last year, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal met officials from Google, Facebook and other websites and said the government would introduce guidelines to ensure "blasphemous material" did not appear on the internet.

The Delhi High Court in January asked Facebook and Google India to "develop a mechanism to keep a check and remove offensive and objectionable material from their web pages" or "like China, we will block all such websites".

'May be revived'

"The summons issued against Yahoo India is set aside," the Press Trust of India quoted Delhi High Court Justice Suresh Kait as saying.

The judge, however, said that a private complaint against the website could be revived if credible and actionable evidence was filed against it.

Indian Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Communications Minister Kapil Sibal has taken a strong line on the issue

Yahoo India's lawyer Arvind Nigam said summons were issued against the site "without application of mind by the trial court", he said.

"I wish to know what is the case against me," he added.

Yahoo has always maintained that the complaint filed in the court had nothing to do with its content as it was about alleged objectionable material retrieved from websites like Zombie, Orkut, YouTube, Facebook and Blogspot.

The criminal case has been brought by journalist Vinay Rai.

A separate civil lawsuit, which makes similar accusations, against a number of the same internet companies is proceeding. Yahoo is still involved in that. Microsoft successfully appealed to be dropped from it.

Many firms say it is impossible to pre-filter material.

Google India has argued that it is not feasible to pre-monitor material posted by "billions of people across the globe".

In an earlier court hearing, Google lawyer NK Kaul said that the issue also related "to a constitutional issue of freedom of speech and expression, and suppressing it was not possible as the right to freedom of speech in democratic India separates us from a totalitarian regime like China".

Facebook says policies are in place that enable people to report abusive content.

In December, Communications Minister Sibal said: "My aim is that insulting material never gets uploaded. We will evolve guidelines and mechanisms to deal with the issue. [The companies] will have to give us the data, where these images are being uploaded and who is doing it."

Mr Sibal was angered by morphed photos of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, as well as doctored images of pigs running through Islam's holy city of Mecca.

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