A Special Leave Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court, seeking investigation against Twitter and its users, for their alleged inflammatory posts on the social media, while also seeking direction to the Government of India to frame guidelines under the IT Act, 2000, pertaining to hate messages against any religious community.
The petition, filed by Advocate Khaja Aijazuddin In-Person, was being preferred against the final judgement dated April 22, 2021 passed by the Telangana High Court, whereby the High Court directed the petitioner to approach the apex court for ‘partial relief,’ sought before the Telangana High Court with regard to direction sought by the petitioner.
According to the petition, a religious congregation was conducted from March 13 to 15, 2020, organised by Tablighi Jamat at Nizamuddin, Delhi where Scholars or attendees came from across the World and from different States of India and the Organisers had housed them by providing necessary day-to-day facilities.
After the conclusion of the meeting somewhere after March 20, 2020, there was massive spread of Novel Coronavirus, resulting in Government of India declaring March 22, 2020 as ‘Janata Curfew’ all over the country, which means the entire country on that particular date shall be closed fully and thereafter, lockdown was announced by the Government of India on March 24, 2020 till April 14, 2020 and thereafter, extended till May 17, 2020.
The plea stated that after the attendees were dispersed to their respective States and during or after arriving their respective places, there were some cases of detection of Coronavirus symptoms in the attendees, who came from abroad and were staying at Nizamuddin, Delhi where congregation took place, and therefore, the “State” took them for Quarantine, as per the norms.
“Due to massive publicity given by the media that many of the positive cases of symptoms of Covid-19 were found from Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin, Delhi, there was a massive trending of Tweets on the Twitter attaching the Muslim religion to the cause of spread of Novel Coronavirus,” alleged the petition.
The petitioner approached the apex court on the ground that sub-Rule (7) to Rule 3 of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 obliges the intermediaries such as the Twitter to provide information sought to by the Government Agencies, who are lawfully authorised for investigation in a particular cyber security activity.
Twitter has failed to furnish the details of the linked IP addresses, alternate email IDs, and phone numbers, of the users associated with posting of the inflammatory posts and hashtags against a particular religious community on the website it , the petitioner submitted.
It was highlighted that there was an absence of Guidelines, as envisaged under the provisions of IT Act, 2000, pertaining to hate messages against any Religious Community including Islamophobic posts on various Social Media platforms, including, but not restricted to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, amongst others and all the online Social media networks of sites operating in Territorial Jurisdiction of India, for which the Union of India have got authority and control under law to act upon, to see that rule of law is followed.