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Delhi HC Orders Takedown of Videos Claiming that Pulse Candies Cause Cancer, Says ‘Facts’ Should be Verifiable

Five defendants were ordered to take down the videos within 48 hours, failing which, Google would have the responsibility of taking them down within 72 hours.

Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court ordered the takedown of YouTube videos claiming that Pulse candies caused cancer. Bar and Bench first reported on the matter.

However, Justice Pratibha Singh noted that the content creators were free to upload videos against the candy, as long as they were based on third-party “scientifically verifiable test reports”.

“There can be no doubt that the right to freedom of speech deserves to be protected in order to communicate facts which are verifiable,” said Justice Singh’s October 5th order. “Such facts ought to be based on credible test reports. However, the sensationalization of the same would also have to be avoided as the same could also lead to unnecessary panic. A baseless fear being created especially in respect of products that are approved, would not be permissible.”

Five defendants were ordered to take down the videos within 48 hours, failing which, Google would have the responsibility of taking them down within 72 hours. The case will be next heard on March 26th, 2024.

Justice Singh’s comments come after Himalaya Wellness recently filed a defamation suit against physician Cyriac Abby Phillips for the latter’s critiques of Himalaya products, like Liv52. Phillips’ social media critiques of the liver supplement alleged that it could be harmful to patients with liver issues. The Kerala-based physician added that his posts were backed by scientific evidence and research, alleging that Himalaya chose the suit as it couldn’t give a “proper, straightforward answer” in response to his critiques.


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A Karnataka court subsequently ordered X (formerly Twitter) to block Phillips’ account—a move criticised by lawyers for restricting Phillips’ free speech rights, among other concerns. Earlier this week, the Karnataka High Court allowed the account to be restored, as long as the contentious tweets were hidden.

What’s this case about?: The defendants (including YouTuber Ashu Ghai) uploaded YouTube videos alleging that Pulse candies were carcinogenic—or caused cancer. According to Pulse’s lawyers, in one video, Ghai does experiments on the candy and concludes that it is cancer-causing. The candy manufacturer described the claims as “false, distasteful, defamatory and objectionable”. Once they found out about the videos, Pulse sent a cease-and-desist notice to Ghai asking him to take down or delete his video.

Ghai responded that he would delete the video, signing a binding undertaking for the same. Notably, his undertaking also acknowledged the misleading nature of his claims:

“I hereby acknowledge that the video posted by me titled Harmful Effects of Pulse Toffee/Most Famous Candy Of India/Ashu Sir made misleading statements regarding the effects on health of your company’s PULSE candies,” Ghai’s undertaking said, adding that “I undertake to ensure that any re-uploaded versions of my video are taken down and do not subsist on the internet now and in the future.”

However, Pulse argued that Ghai hadn’t actually kept his word—the video hasn’t been deleted, but has been made private instead. Four other defendants in the case have also re-uploaded the video, including abridged versions of it.

On the responsibility of the media: While ruling in favour of Pulse, Justice Singh recalled the Delhi High Court’s Mother Dairy judgment, which encouraged public criticism grounded in facts. The ruling observed:

“Undoubtedly, it is the author’s prerogative to decide the contents of the programme. It has complete freedom regarding its composition or expression of views and opinions. It has the right to criticize in a scathing manner, lack of quality control tests or procedure and or ineffective processes and to bring out need for maintenance of standards to ensure quality. However, any exaggeration or sweeping comment on subjects concerning health and quality of commodities of human consumption can cause immense harm to the public and psyche of masses. Media has the onerous responsibility to ensure that facts are verified and the matter is thoroughly investigated and researched and salient and critical information is collected.”

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