MARICO LIMITED v. ABHIJEET BHANSALI

In this case Mr. Abhjeet Bhansali (Social Media Influencer) who tested and shared with the viewers to find out that the quality of the coconut oil. He showcased that after refrigeration the organic coconut oil is transparent and the Marico Limited’s product has a much yellowish tint. He further draws the conclusion that the Marico Limited’s product is not generally unrefined and is a much more inferior in the quality of the cold-pressed coconut oil and this has resulted in the Marico Limited’s product being extracted using the expeller pressed in process, from the fact that the parachute coconut oil will show a slight yellow tint and emit a very strong odor.

He finally concluded that the Marico Limited’s product is not exactly extracted from fresh coconut oil, instead it uses the expeller-pressed process. This is the reason for the yellowish tint and the strong odor. The Marico Limited’s claimed the contents in the video is defamatory, false and made without any expert knowledge and filed a case against him.

In this case, the Division Bench is made their observations:

  • According to the law related to the Freedom of Speech or statement of opinions or defamation
  • Where a person is asserted to a matter of fact, he cannot be restrained from voicing his opinion.
  • In cases of opinions or subjective issues, various considerations applied.
  • If an opinion is based on the disclosed and non-defamatory fact, action against it is generally not maintainable, irrespective of how unreasonable or derogatory the opinion is.
  • Whether a statement is a fact or opinion depends upon whether the consumer can verify the statement. If yes, the same cannot be treated as an opinion.
  • However, if the opinion is based on the undisclosed or on implied facts, the support of such an action depends on the understanding of the statement. If the recipient reasonably believing the truth of an undisclosed or implied by the defamatory fact about the subject of the statement, the speaker is much liable for making a much more defamatory statement.

 The error which had been committed by the Mr. Abhjeet Bhansali is referred to as the exemplar oil as the organic coconut oil with reference to the virgin coconut oil, but this is a trivial error and this does not mislead the viewer who would clearly understand the essentiality of the presentation. The Marico Limited’s product is not extracted from a fresh coconut and that the expeller pressed to the process which is used to extract the oil from Copra.

The Appeal was allowed with few minor modifications for the video. However, the dominant message was conveyed by the video was not being restricted.

Key learning points for Social Media Influencers from the Division Bench's Judgment

 Influencers or the competitors who review the opponent's product should be more objective in their analysis and their opinions must be backed up with verifiable facts.

If their opinions are non-verifiable, it will be considered an actionable wrong against the product and its makers. Depending upon the nature of the content of the statement, the structure of fact-based defamation could be finalized.

Thus, off the bad remarks which are made against any product which is especially in well-known products, they should not be made by Social Media Influencers.

Hiring a Social media Influencer might be covered under the net of such actions as a correct or necessary party which depends upon the facts of the case and they could also ensure the diligence on their part as well as part of Social Media Influencers while making a proper statement against any product or service. The propaganda is quite simple ‘Truth Alone Triumphs’ but it is substantiated fact.

So, the answer for the title of this article is Social Media Influencer’s shall not review or propagate without verifiable facts.

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