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Delhi High Court Issues Notice In Plea Against Twitter For Non Compliance Of IT Rules, 2021

Nupur Thapliyal
31 May 2021 7:34 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Issues Notice In Plea Against Twitter For Non Compliance Of IT Rules, 2021
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The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice in a plea filed against the non-compliance by Twitter India and Twitter Inc with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) after Senior advocate Sajan Poovaya appearing for Twitter told the court that they have already appointed a grievance redressal officer on May 28.A single...

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The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice in a plea filed against the non-compliance by Twitter India and Twitter Inc with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) after Senior advocate Sajan Poovaya appearing for Twitter told the court that they have already appointed a grievance redressal officer on May 28.

A single judge bench comprising of Justice Rekha Palli has sought Twitter's response in the plea filed by one Amit Acharya, a practicing advocate in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India, and a user of the platform, stating that Twitter is a "Significant Social Media Intermediary" (SSMI) as laid down under the IT Rules, 2021 and therefore must ensure compliance with the statutory duties imposed upon it by the provisions of these rules.

During the course of hearing, the Court remarked that if the rules have not been stayed then they have to be complied with. 

The Court, while giving three weeks to Twitter to file the reply, posted the matter for July 6will now hear the matter on July 6.

On May 26, the Government of India had released a circular enquiring about compliance with the said rules by all SSMIs under the Rules.

The petition alleges that according to Rule 4(c) of the aforesaid IT Rules, every SSMI has to appoint a "Resident Grievance Officer", who shall, amongst others, be responsible for the redressal and disposal of complaints made by a user or "victim" on the platform.

The petitioner states that in non-compliance with the Rules, Twitter India and Twitter have failed to appoint any Resident Grievance Officer, Nodal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer.

It is thus stated that as "a subscriber and user of Twitter" while "scrolling his Twitter on May 26, 2021," he found allegedly "defamatory, false and untrue tweets" by two individuals.

As per the Rules, he tried to look for the Resident Grievance Officer to lodge a complaint with, however, he found no details of the Resident Grievance Officer on the page of Twitter, "which is a clear violation of Sub-Rule 2(a) of Rule 3 which says that the intermediary shall prominently publish on its website, mobile based application or both, as the case may be, the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact details."

Therefore, it is stated that Twitter and Twitter India "have deprived him of his statutory right to lodge complaint before the Resident Grievance Officer".

The Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the IT Rules provides that if any user of these intermediaries feels that content available on these platforms:

(i) belongs to another person and to which the user does not have any right;

(ii) is defamatory, pornographic, invasive of another's privacy, insulting or harassing, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling,

(iii) is harmful to children;

(iv) impersonates another person;

(v) threatens the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India, or causes incitement to the commission of any criminal offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting to other nations;

(vi) contains software virus or

(vii) is patently false and untrue, and is written or published in any form, with the intent to mislead or harass a person for financial gain or to cause any injury to any person; he can file his grievance before the Grievance Officer of the intermediaries. The Resident Grievance Officer is bound to acknowledge the grievance within 24 hours and resolve such complaint within a period of 15 days, as per the IT Rules, 2021.

The petitioner thus prayed for the appointment of a Resident Grievance Officer and discharge of all other statutory and executive duties under the IT Rules by Twitter and Twitter India.

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