Facebook has refused to block a ‘drinker’s group’ that the Kerala Police had requested to be taken down, according to local media reports.
The social network reportedly told the police that the group was not in violation of its guidelines and cannot be taken down without proper justification.
The Kerala Excise department is trying to shut down the group known as GNPC or Glassile Nurayum Platile Curriyum, which exchanges information about the best drinks, restaurants, bars, menus etc..
The Excise Department, led by IPS officer Rishi Raj Singh of Rajasthan, believes that the group encourages the habit of drinking by facilitating the exchange of such reviews and information.
The Excise Department has already filed a case and is investigating the group to see if the organizers are taking monetary compensation from liquor companies in exchange for operating the group.
In India, liquor companies are banned from advertising on TV, forcing them to resort to non-broadcast, below-the-line promotions like event sponsorships.
The Excise Department is not pleased that liquor companies allegedly offered sponsorships to events and parties organized by the group.
To make sure that the group is brought down, the Excise Department also sought help from the Kerala Police, asking that the group be brought down using laws that it may have at its disposal.
Among the laws suggested by the Excise Department are the Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code.
The Kerala Police have since filed cases under non-bailable sections of the IPC against the people involved in the Facebook group.
TN Ajithkumar, the person who created the group over a year ago, has filed for anticipatory bail in the case, which is likely to be taken up by the courts today.
Meanwhile, many Facebook users have rallied to the support of the group and group members, calling the actions of the police and Excise Department an encroachment on the freedom of expression of citizens to discuss their hobbies and interests.