A court cannot treat Facebook posts as determinative of the location of a person at a particular point of time, the Delhi High Court has said, while allowing the plea of a lawyer against an order of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).
The court's observation came while dealing with the lawyer's petition challenging an adverse order passed against him by the IPAB for a “deliberate, wrong, irresponsible representation” to seek an adjournment in a case. The IPAB had said that while an adjournment was being sought on the ground that the petitioner lawyer, who was the “main counsel” in the case, was in quarantine and his office was closed due to COVID-19, the Board was shown that as per his Facebook posts he was on a holiday.
Justice C Hari Shankar, in his order passed earlier this week, said the IPAB was “needlessly strict in imposing costs and referring the matter to the Bar Council of India in such circumstances”. The court observed it could be seen from the earlier orders in the case that the petitioner was not the lead counsel, and before passing any adverse view, the IPAB ought to have given an opportunity to the lawyer to explain his stand.
The lead counsel, it added, was “indeed quarantined at the relevant time and expired unfortunately".“Even otherwise, in my considered opinion, before taking an adverse view against the Counsel on the basis of a Facebook post, and referring the matter to the Bar Council of India, the learned IPAB ought, at the very least, to have given an opportunity to the Counsel to explain the circumstances,” the court said.
“Postings on Facebook cannot be treated as determinative of the location of a person at a particular point of time, at least by a Court. Even if a Court is to take an adverse view in that regard, the Counsel ought to be given an opportunity to explain the position before such a view is taken,” it added.The court quashed and set aside the order of the IPAB and allowed the petition.