High Court seeks reply of Centre, Twitter on senior advocate’s petition

Plea seeks direction to Twitter to not delete data of his account

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Centre and micro-blogging site Twitter on a plea by a senior advocate Sanjay Hegde to frame guidelines for censorship on social media strictly in accordance with the provision of the Constitution.

Justice Navin Chawla issued notices to the Ministry of Information Technology and Twitter on a plea by Mr. Hegde, whose account was permanently suspended on November 5 last. It posted the case for further hearing on February 11.

Central government’s standing counsel Kirtiman Singh, appearing for the government, said guidelines were already in place on the issue of censorship on social media.

Twitter had, in October last, suspended the senior advocate’s account over the use of an image of August Landmesser on his page referring it as “hateful imagery” and violation of the company’s rules. The account was subsequently restored but was suspended again over a two-and-a-half-year old tweet. Mr. Hegde had tweeted to a post by Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, on Gorakh Pandey’s poem ‘Usko Phaansi Do’ with its English translation ‘Hang Him’.

In his petition, Mr. Hegde also sought restoration of his Twitter account, with an interim plea for a direction to Twitter to refrain from deleting the data of his account.

“The arbitrariness of Respondent No.2’s [Twitter] conduct is clear from the fact that while the petitioner’s account was suspended for sharing a post/tweet by another user, no action has been taken against the user who wrote the original tweet. The same continues to be in public domain,” the plea said.

The senior advocate argued that the suspension of his account was against Twitter’s own rules and terms of use. Terming the suspension of his account as “illegal and arbitrary”, Mr. Hegde said it has violated his rights under Article 19 of the Constitution, including his right to free speech and expression.

The plea also submitted that Mr. Hegde had appealed against the suspension of his Twitter account by following the company’s internal appeals procedure. This was rejected, it said.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 5:01:49 AM |

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