WhatsApp was served with a legal notice due to inclusion of middle finger emoji on Tuesday. Gurmeet Singh, the lawyer who gave a notice threatened to file civil or criminal case if the middle finger emoji is not removed from the messaging app in less than 15 days.
The advocate called the middle finger gesture obscene and lewd, which is offense in India. In the notice, the advocate stated, “…showing the middle finger is not only offensive but a highly belligerent, invasive, obscene, lewd gesture.”
Gurmeet Singh stated in his notice, “As per the Indian Penal Code Sections 354 and 509, it is an offence to show obscene, lewd, offensive gestures to females. Use of a lewd, offensive, obscene gesture by anyone is hereby illegal also as aforesaid. As per section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 showing of the middle finger is also an offence in Ireland.”
Singh also outlined various incidents in which people faced prosecution due to showing the obscene hand gesture. He listed the incident of removal of a municipal judge due to showing the gesture to a defendant while traffic court proceedings.
Emoji serves as a way to express emotions or ideas through a small digital image or icon. The notice outlined that the use of middle finger emoji in the app would lead users to use offensive, obscene, and lewd gestures for messaging.
The lawyer requested the removal of the middle finger emoji or character or photo from WhatsApp in next 5 days from the date of the legal notice. The lack of removal would result in filing civil or criminal cases by the lawyer.