The High Court of Telangana on Monday issued notices on a petition seeking removal of "communal hashtags" trending on Twitter, which demonise and blame the entire Muslim community of deliberately spreading the corona virus across the country.
The division bench comprised by Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy has issued notices to the Central Government, the State Government and to Twitter.
The court has asked the Respondents to file their counter affidavits in the matter within four weeks, and explain why such tweets had not been removed.
The Petitioner, Advocate Khaja Aijazuddin had earlier approached the Supreme Court seeking restraint on all websites in India from carrying "islamophobic" posts, that have the potential to hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community.
He had stated that due to the "massive publicity" given to the members of the Tablighi Jamaat, who later tested Covid positive, the religious congregation was given a communal color, leading to widespread social media posts, linking the religion to the disease.
He averred that such posts are contrary to the India laws, particularly the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits and penalizes "insulting the religion, hurting the feelings of the community and disturbing the communal harmony of the Country".
The same is also averred to be contrary to the Guidelines issued by the WHO on March 18, laying down that "religion shall not be attached with the pandemic".
In this backdrop, the Petitioner-advocate had prayed for a direction to the Centre and to the Telangana Police to require the social media platform Twitter to "stop the illegal trending attaching the religion to the pandemic disease", for it is "highly unwarranted, illegal and unconstitutional". Further, he had prayed that "online social media networks or sites be restrained from carrying any messages hurting or insulting the feelings of the particular community."
The Supreme Court however refused to intervene in the matter and allowed the Petitioner to withdraw the plea with the liberty to approach the Telangana High Court, pursuant to which the present petition was filed.
The High Court has issued notices and has posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.