In a significant milestone, the Delhi High Court, while hearing a case about Twitter’s compliance with the New IT Rules, refused the social media behemoth temporary protection. The single-judge panel, led by Justice Rekha Palli, allowed the Central government broad discretion to take any action it saw fit against Twitter for non-compliance with the IT Rules, noting that it had already missed the deadline. However, it did enable the social media behemoth to file an affidavit in the case.
Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a petition from Amit Acharya, who requested that Twitter users be sanctioned for their postings on a video from Ghaziabad depicting a Muslim man being abused. The lawsuit asked the court to order Twitter to establish a Resident Grievance Officer, as required under Rule 4 of the Information Technology Rules of 2021.
Within eight weeks, Twitter will appoint normal people to the posts of Resident Grievance Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Nodal Contact Person, according to a court filing today. In the meantime, it announced the interim appointments.
The fact that the officers were termed as “interim” although the rules do not allow for such a status irked Justice Palli. She also pointed out that Twitter’s note was not supported by an affidavit when it was submitted today.
In response, Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, who is representing Twitter, emphasised the challenges of employing permanent employees when the company does not have a permanent headquarters in India. “, he stated “Twitter’s ad hoc appointments could result in tax complications… There will be a permanent liaison officer in eight weeks. “
Further, the Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, who was representing the Central government in the hearings before the Court, informed the court that Twitter had not submitted any affidavit in the matter. “We want the accountability of certitude,” he stated, and Twitter’s Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya told him that an affidavit would be filed to that effect. Justice Palli simply intervened to point out that it had already been found in contempt. Having stated so, the Court noted that, while no affidavit has been produced, Twitter has issued a brief note.
Despite allowing Twitter to file an affidavit, Justice Palli stated that “no type of protection is provided to Twitter, and the Centre is free to take any action against it if it finds Twitter in violation of the guidelines.” The remark was made with the knowledge that Twitter had already missed the Centre’s deadline for compliance with the new IT Rules.