Delhi HC tells Centre, Twitter to respond to journalist's plea challenging locking of her account

The plea said the action of Twitter was arbitrary and was violative of her rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution as it impairs her right to free speech

Press Trust of India January 11, 2022 20:41:39 IST
Delhi HC tells Centre, Twitter to respond to journalist's plea challenging locking of her account

Representational image. News18

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Centre and Twitter to respond to a plea by a journalist challenging the microblogging site's decision to block her access to her account for allegedly violating its rules against hateful conduct.

Justice Rekha Palli issued notice to Twitter Inc and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the petition by journalist Aarti Tikoo, founder and editor-in-chief of news portal 'the news indian', seeking quashing of Twitter's December 15, 2021 decision by which her account was locked apart from deletion of her tweet of that day.

The high court dismissed as not pressed, the interim application seeking access to her Twitter account and said you can manage without Twitter for some days.

It granted liberty to Tikoo to file an application for interim relief in future if the need arises after completion of pleadings and listed the matter for further hearing on 30 March.

In her plea, Tikoo assailed Twitter's blocking her access to the account for calling out the actions of Kashmiri Islamists on Twitter for threatening her cousin.

The plea said the action of Twitter was arbitrary and was violative of her rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution as it impairs her right to free speech.

There is no provision under which content can be edited or modified before transmission suo motu by an intermediary like the respondent no. 2 (Twitter). In other words, there is no sanction for this action under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the latest the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, said the petition, filed through advocate Mukesh Sharma.

It said that on 14 December 2021, her cousin Sahil Tikoo participated in a discussion where he was called an Indian agent by some participants. On the morning of December 15, she put out a tweet saying that her Srinagar-based brother was being threatened by jihadi terrorists and asked if they were sitting ducks waiting to be shot by Islamists.

She was shocked to see that Twitter Admin served her a notice saying that her tweet had violated the Twitter Rules against Hateful Conduct, it said.

A lot of Twitter users including political personalities cutting across party lines expressed sympathy with the petitioner because her tweet very clearly did not incite violence or hatred against any community. As a matter of fact, the same was an exhortation to the respondent no.1 (Central Government) to act against Islamists, the petition said.

It alleged that by the action of locking her account, Twitter was firmly siding with Islamist terrorists who have been the scourge of India's brave security forces in Kashmir.

Since the beginning of the insurgency in 1989, countless brave soldiers and security personnel have been martyred in the struggle to preserve India's sovereignty and territorial integrity. In this view of the matter, it is imperative that the impugned decision of the respondent no.2 is quashed forthwith," it said.

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