Karnataka HC admits X Corp’s appeal after govt says it won’t reconsider takedown orders

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday admitted the appeal filed by X Corp (formerly Twitter), challenging a single-judge order, dismissing its plea against takedown orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY).

This came after the government informed the Court that it is not reconsidering the takedown orders, as there was no change in circumstances.

Ten government orders between February 2, 2021 and February 28, 2022 directing the then Twitter to block 1,474 accounts, 175 Tweets, 256 URLs and one hashtag had been issued.

The company had challenged this before the single judge who had dismissed it and imposed a cost of Rs 50 lakh.

The company’s appeal came up before the division bench of Justices G Narendar and Vijaykumar A Patil.

The division bench had in an earlier hearing asked the government if it would reconsider the orders. It had also ordered the company to deposit Rs 25 lakh of the fine amount to show its bonafides which has been complied with.

On Wednesday, the counsel for X Corp, senior advocate Sajan Poovayya argued that the MeiTY has not passed a final order recording the reasons for blocking accounts as required under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

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The HC however observed that the issue of recording reasons has been accepted by the single judge as well and the issue now is whether it has to be communicated to the account holder.

The HC also noted that since the Shreya Singhal judgement of the Supreme Court had held that such orders are open for judicial review the account holder required the order to be communicated to him. “Once it is subject to judicial review, once his civil rights are impinged, communication of written order is required,” the Bench observed.

The Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the Government, argued that it is not the account holders who are challenging the orders, but the platform (X Corp).

After admitting the appeal, the HC listed it for hearing on November 9.

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