The present order emerged from a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by Sangeeta Sharma. The Petitioner sought for directions to be issued to the Ministry of Home Affairs to regulate the increasing number of anti-national content on social media.
Facts of the Case
According to the Petitioner, Twitter Communications India was responsible for spreading the Khalistani movement and anti-national agenda to the public at large. It was also asserted that in the absence of a mechanism to regulate content on social media, ‘Twitter’ was being used to call upon “Separatists”. This, in turn, was creating panic in some sections of the society thereby challenging the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the Union of India.
The Petitioner claimed that Twitter has “abetted” the act of the Separatists. This was attributed to Twitter’s acceptance of financial gratification and paid advertisements. Hence, the PIL sought a direction for lodging a case against Twitter Communications India Pvt Ltd for offences under Section 39 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Sections 107, 121A, 124A, 153A, 153b and 34 of Indian Penal Code and Section 66F of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The Petitioner has also prayed for initiation of an inquiry against Twitter for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy to promote Khalistan movement.
Submissions Before the Court
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma appeared for the Central Government. He submitted that the government already has a mechanism in place to govern social media. He further stated that the Petitioner should have made representation to Government authorities before approaching the Court.
On this, the Petitioner sought the Court’s permission to withdraw the PIL with liberty, so she could make a representation to the Central Government.
The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad refused to go into the merits of the Petition. However, the Court allowed the Petitioner to move a representation before the concerned authorities in a plea seeking regulation of anti-India content on social media.
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