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Delhi High Court issues notice to remove objectionable content related to Hindu Gods from Instagram

The petitioner is stated to have found the content while exploring the said media platform and found obnoxious posts. The content entailed abusive language about Hindu gods and goddesses further had risqué representation in the form of cartoons and graphics.

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The Delhi High Court has recently issued a notice in a plea seeking directions to remove certain objectionable content related to “Hindu Gods from the social media platform “Instagram” which is owned by Facebook. 

The bench of Justice Rekha Palli issued a notice in the writ petition filed by Advocate Aditya Singh Deshwal who primarily raised a grievance against certain users of the social media platform inter alia, Instagram who purportedly posted certain highly objectionable and off-putting explicit content on the aforementioned platform and requested that the same ought to be removed at the earliest. 

The petitioner is stated to have found the content while exploring the said media platform and found obnoxious posts. The content entailed abusive language about Hindu gods and goddesses further had risqué representation in the form of cartoons and graphics.

The plea averred that the petitioner raised a complaint and notified the Grievance Officer of Instagram under the New IT Rules, 2021, however, no action was taken by the Grievance Officer. Hence the prayer sought by the petitioner was to issue order or direction to respondents under the IT Act 2000 to remove the content and block the users of such content, following which the respondents must pertinently discharge their executive, statutory and all other obligations in relation to the aforementioned Act as well as implement the Rule 3 and 4 of the  Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021 and direct the social media platform, Instagram to preserve all the details associates of these account users in order to expose the culprits and to prevent the same in the future. 

The plea raised the legal grounds and questions with respect to Rule 3(2)(1)(a) and Rule 3(2)(i) and (ii) of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021, stating that:

i. Whether in the light of Rule 3(2)(1)(a) the direction of giving acknowledgment within 24 hours of receipt of complain by grievance officer is mandatory or directory in nature?

ii. Whether in the light of Rule 3(2)(i) and (ii) the grievance officer refuse to acknowledge the compliance of legal process or order by competent court of law.

iii. Whether in the light of Rule 3(2)(1)(a) the same Grievance Officer can be appointed for two Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs), which have followers of more than 50 lakhs and whether the same shall be considered as true compliance of these said rules in its true sense?

iv. Whether providing the address of a law firm as the correspondence address of its grievance Officer is a true compliance of the aforementioned Rules.

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Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Ld. Senior Counsel on behalf of Instagram through Grievance Officer made his humble submissions that the disputed content referred in the petition had already been removed from the platform following which he apprised the court that the said users who had uploaded these objectional contents were blocked and a Grievance Officer, in consonance to the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules 2021 and hence was eligible to be disposed off. The Court issued notice. 

The matter would now be heard on August 16, 2021.

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