ILNS: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday while allowing the early hearing application filed by advocate Sanjay Hegde, said that it will hear his plea challenging the suspension of his Twitter account on July 8.
A single-judge bench of the high court presided over by Justice Prathiba M. Singh has now listed the matter for hearing on July 8. Hegde had in his plea also sought the court’s direction to the Centre to frame guidelines to ensure that online speech is not arbitrarily censored by social media websites such as the one run by Twitter.
In his early hearing application, Hegde sought a direction to Twitter to restore his Twitter account, which was permanently suspended on November 5 two years ago.
The plea further stated that section 79 (2) (c) read with Section 87 (2) (zg) of the Information Technology Act authorize the Central Government to prescribe guidelines to intermediaries.
“In exercise of these powers, the Central Government has laid down various guidelines regarding when content is to be taken down. However, no guidelines to ensure that legal speech is not censored have been laid down,” the plea said.
Hegde through his application informed the bench that petition filed by him was first listed on 16.12.2019 and subsequently heard on January 6 2020, wherein notice was issued to both respondents after hearing the Petitioner’s arguments regarding maintainability of the Petition.
“When the matter was taken up on February 11 2020, counsel appearing for the Respondent Twitter had orally undertaken that the Petitioner’s data would not be deleted from its servers and also sought time to file a note with submissions challenging maintainability of the Petition. Later the matter has not been taken up for more than a year on account of the Covid pandemic,” the application said.
The application said that during the pendency of this petition, thousands of other accounts have been similarly blocked. In some cases, access to content is disabled by Respondent No.2 (Twitter) without any notice, and without giving any explanation or reason whatsoever. In the Petitioner’s own case, his account was suspended for posts that have been put up by thousands of other users and continue to exist even today.