‘Twitter account suspension between Hegde and site’

Did not order suspension: Centre

February 10, 2020 01:42 am | Updated 01:42 am IST - New Delhi

The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that the issue of suspension of Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde’s Twitter account was between him and the micro-blogging site.

In an affidavit, the Centre also clarified that it had not directed the suspension of Mr. Hegde’s Twitter account.

The Centre said it was “neither a necessary nor a proper party to this proceedings”.

The response of the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology came on a petition filed by Mr. Hegde to frame guidelines for censorship on social media strictly in accordance with the provision of the Constitution.

Previously, the High Court had issued notices to the Ministry and Twitter on a plea by the senior advocate, whose account was permanently suspended on November 5 last year. The High Court has posted the case for further hearing on February 11.

Twitter had, in October last year, suspended the senior advocate’s account over the use of an image of August Landmesser on his page referring to it as “hateful imagery” and violation of the company’s rules.

The account was subsequently restored but was suspended again. This time over a tweet which was about two-and-half-years old. 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 had said it violated his rights under Article 19 of the Constitution, including his right to free speech and expression.

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