Twitter Tells HC Its Petition Against Content Takedown Orders Maintainable

Social media company Twitter on Wednesday informed the High Court of Karnataka that its petition challenging the various takedown orders of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was maintainable, as the concept of reasonableness in Article 19 of the Constitution of India pertaining to Freedom of Speech was applicable to it.

Advocate Manu Kulkarni, appearing for Twitter, submitted to the single-judge bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit that the Supreme Court in the ‘Shreya Singhal case’ had interpreted that Section 69A of the Information Technology Act incorporated Article 19 of the Constitution.

I have my office in Bengaluru and services are provided in India, so I am carrying on business in India,” he argued.

The high court on Monday asked the Central government and Twitter to clarify the issue of how Indian entities would be treated in the US and foreign jurisdictions on such issues.

On Wednesday Twitter informed the high court that under Article 3 of the Constitution of the US, foreign nationals had the Constitutional Right to access courts in the United States.

The Court pointed out that a similar provision was absent in the Indian Constitution.

Kulkarni said Sections 83 to 87 of the Code of Civil Procedure were similar to Article 3 of the US Constitution.

Twitter’s counsel said the statement of objections by the government was inconsistent in matters related to takedowns, and a framework of guidelines may be needed.

He argued that Section 69A of the IT Act was being used to block accounts which amounted to blocking content that had not even been published.

“The blocking should be of information that has already taken shape and not the one which is yet to come. The blocking is of the information and not the very author from whom the information is generated,” he argued.

The court observed: “Law is not just language, it is something more. It may amount to saying every dog will have one bite, before we term it a mad dog. But it will be very costly to the country. Suppose a person continuously tweets say 20 tweets, all venomous, then there is reason to assume that the 21st tweet will also be venomous. In such a way, we say it is better to block the account.”

The court observed that it was for the court to judge whether this was the intent when Section 69A was drafted by the Parliament.

The hearing was adjourned to April 17.

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