The mobile messaging app WhatsApp received a legal notice from an advocate from Delhi on last Tuesday over the emoji “middle finger” asking the WhatsApp company to remove it within less than 15 days. In the legal notice, the lawyer also threatened to file criminal or civil cases against the company if the emoji is not removed. The advocate, Gurmeet Singh further mentioned that the popular ‘middle finger’ emoji of WhatsApp is an obscene, belligerent, lewd, derogatory gesture and is against Indian cultural values.
According to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 354 and 509, showing women lewd, obscene, and offensive gestures is an offense. Therefore, anyone using offensive, vulgar, and obscene gesture is doing an illegal thing as mentioned above. According to Section 6 of 1994’s Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, it is an offence to show off someone’s middle finger in Ireland, said advocate Gurmeet Singh in the judicial notice. The notice further said that by allowing people to use the emoji showing the middle finger, WhatsApp Inc., is abetting users to continue the use of obscene and lewd gestures.
The Delhi-based lawyer pointed out that emoji is an icon, which is used to express or show any kind of emotion or feeling. Thus by using the ‘middle finger’ emoji people are expressing offensive, obscene gestures and indecent, abhorrent emotions. These emotions are illegal and should not be indulged. Advocate Singh further said that these types of gestures are against Indian cultural ethos and ideals. This emoji is obscene in India and should be removed immediately.
Gurmeet Singh in his legal notice has requested that the emoji must be removed from WhatsApp within 15 days from the present date of filing the legal notice, threatening to file criminal or civil cases if the company fails to remove the emoji within the given short period of time.