The Delhi High Court on Monday ruled that any offensive post on social media that targets an individual of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe communities, even if made in a closed group, is punishable, The Times of India reported.

The court was hearing a complaint by a woman who belongs to a Scheduled Caste against her Rajput co-sister, the wife of her husband’s brother. The complainant said her co-sister was harassing and abusing her on social network websites.

The bench held that the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, will apply if a casteist slur is made against a person from these communities. The judgement, which came in reference to a Facebook post, can extend to other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, even if they have closed privacy settings.

“Even if privacy settings are retained by a Facebook member as ‘private’, making of an offending post by the member...may still be punishabl,” Justice Vipin Sanghi said, clarifyng that if the complainant and those connected to him/her on Facebook were related to each other, they would be exempt from prosecution.