Karnataka HC asks Centre if it will reconsider takedown orders issued to X Corp

The High Court of Karnataka has asked the Union Government if it would reconsider the blocking orders issued to X Corp (formerly Twitter) to block Tweets, accounts and URLs issued to the micro-blogging site.

A division bench which is hearing an appeal by the company has directed the government to make its stand clear before September 27, when it will hear the arguments in the appeal.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) had issued 10 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.

Twitter challenged the orders related to 39 of these in a petition. However, a single judge bench dismissed its petition and also imposed a cost of Rs 50 lakh on the company.

The company’s appeal came up before the division bench of Justice G Narendar and Vijaykumar A Patil again on Wednesday. The court allowed two applications by the company to amend the grounds in its petition and also to produce additional documents.

The counsel for X Corp, senior advocate Sajan Poovayya argued that the blocking orders issued by MeiTY do not state the reasons as mandated by law.

He also pointed out that the orders can be sent to the Secretary of MeiTY for a review, which had not been done. To which the court opined that such an in-house decision (by Secretary) would not attract “unwarranted publicity.”

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Considering this proposal, the court further directed that it will “remand it back to the Secretary and let him look into it and say whether it is justified or not.”

The court said that the government should speak to the Secretary, and the Additional Solicitor General to get an opinion as “prima facie it (X Corp) appears they have a case.”

The division bench also observed that there was no provision for imposing a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the company. The company has however deposited Rs 25 lakh in the court on the direction of the division bench.

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