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What is this ‘contingent worker’, HC asks Twitter

A view of the Delhi High Court in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed reservations about Twitter changing the status of its recently appointed Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) from “interim” to “contingent” in its latest affidavit.

Justice Rekha Palli remarked that the rules mandated appointment of a senior employee as CCO, but Twitter, according to its affidavit, had appointed a “contingent worker” through a third party contractor.

“What is this contingent worker? I don't know what it would mean. I have a problem with the word,” the High Court remarked.

It gave the micro-blogging site a week’s time to submit a fresh affidavit. “File a better affidavit. This is not acceptable. I’m giving you a long rope, but don’t expect the court to do it on and on. Disclose the name of the third party contractor and explain ‘contingent’.”

The High Court directed Twitter to also disclose details of the Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) and Nodal Contact Person. It will hear the case again on August 6.

Twitter, in its affidavit, stated that one Vinay Prakash had been appointed as COO and RGO as contingent worker through third party contractor. Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing Twitter, said the CCO had undertaken to perform all functions and responsibilities under the IT Rules, even though he was a contingent worker and appointed through third party contractor.

“I don't know what you want to do,” the High Court remarked. “If you want to [comply with the rules], do it whole-heartedly.”

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Centre, said Twitter was acting in “abject non-compliance of the rules” as the CCO could not be a contingent worker. “It has been months. You can't have it so easy. We hold our hands because we are before your lordship,” the ASG said.

Earlier, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had stated that despite all Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs) having been granted three months time to comply with the Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021, Twitter had failed to fully comply.

The Ministry had said Twitter failed to comply with India’s law regulating tech companies rendering their services as “intermediaries”.

In India, Section 79 of the IT Act shields social media platforms or intermediaries such as Twitter from liability for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by it in certain cases. The Ministry said when an intermediary failed to observe the IT Rules, it could be liable for any punishment under any law for the time being in force in respect of the offending content.

The Ministry's affidavit came in response to a petition by advocate Amit Acharya, seeking the appointment of a Resident Grievance Officer under Rule 4 of the IT Rules 2021.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:30:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/what-is-this-contingent-worker-hc-asks-twitter/article35597433.ece

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