Bengaluru: Karnataka High Court on Friday reserved its verdict on social media platform Twitter’s plea challenging the central government’s directions to take down 39 URLs.
The matter pertains to the 10 blocking orders that the central government had issued to Twitter, between February 2021 and February 2022, directing the social media platform to block public access to certain information, and suspend several accounts as well.
The Centre had handed over the blocking orders in sealed covers to the High Court.
Justice Krishna S Dixit reserved the judgment after hearing the arguments presented by Twitter and the central government.
Twitter challenged the government orders claiming that they are arbitrary, and procedurally and substantively not in consonance with Section 69A of the IT Act. Twitter also contended that account-level blocking is a violation of the constitutional rights of users.
Apart from arguing that the direction to block entire accounts falls afoul of Section 69A of the IT Act, Twitter claimed that the government orders do not comply with the procedures and safeguards prescribed by the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 (Blocking Rules).
In its reply, the Centre submitted that the directions were issued in national and public interest and to prevent lynching and mob violence incidents.
Stating that it only intervenes when there is a threat to the sovereignty of India or public order, the central government argued that being a foreign entity and the government’s 10 blocking orders not being arbitrary, Twitter could not take refuge under the fundamental rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression) of the Indian Constitution.
Contending that Twitter does not have the right to espouse the cause of users as statutory enable is required for such action, the Centre also argued that Twitter has no locus standi to file the plea as it cann’t speak on behalf of its account holders.