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“IT Rules 2021 Have To Be Complied With”- Delhi HC Tells Twitter

Justice Rekha Palli issued a notice and made it clear that the new IT rules have to be complied with until they are stayed.

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Twitter on Monday assured the Delhi High Court that it has appointed a ‘Grievance Redressal Officer’ in compliance with the new IT Rules on May 28. It is pertinent to note that the microblogging messaging platform falls under the category of ‘significant social media intermediary’ and such SSMIs are mandatorily required to appoint Grievance Redressal Officers as per the new IT Rules.

Petitioner had moved Delhi HC over inability to exercise his statutory right under IT rules

The petition filed by Advocate Amit Acharya claimed that Twitter has made a clear violation of the requirement to appoint a GRO as mandated under the amended IT rules. In the present case, the petitioner wanted to lodge a complaint regarding two tweets that he found to be objectionable.

The Tweets in question

The tweets in question belonged to TMC politician Mahua Moitra and Journalist Swati Chaturvedi.

On May 25th, Ms Moitra had tweeted in support of Twitter’s move of labelling Sambit Patra’s tweet over toolkit row as ‘manipulated media’.

"Welcome to our Susu Potty Republic! Drink Gaumutra, smear cow dung & flush the rule of law down the toilet. Delhi Police issue notice to Twitter & land up in their offices for rightly calling out BJP’s fake document as manipulated media. Go figure, “her tweet read.

While Ms Chaturvedi took a jibe at the judiciary alleging corruption and favoritism in the system.

"If Bobde had been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Modi would have been able to appoint his favourite Gujarat IPS official Rakesh Asthana. What a huge difference a CJI who follows the law makes”, she had posted the following day.

The petitioner wanted to lodge a complaint against the above-mentioned tweets. However, he could not find the required contact details about the designated GRO on the Twitter website as per rule 3 (2) of the IT Rules.

Calling it a clear violation of his statutory right to file a complaint under the new IT rules, he moved the Delhi High Court seeking directions for the appointment of a GRO as required under the delegated legislation.

Twitter confirms the appointment, seeks time to file reply

Senior Advocate Sajan Poovaya appearing for the US-based company confirmed the appointment of a Grievance Redressal Officer as required under the new rules.

"As on the date of filing this petition, the rules were not complied. Subsequently, they have been., I will file it on affidavit", Poovayya said during the hearing.

Allowing Twitter’s counsel time to file his affidavit in this regard, Justice Rekha Palli issued a notice and made it clear that the new IT rules have to be complied with until they are stayed.

The matter is slated for hearing on July 6.

The ongoing appointment tussle through legal lens

Shedding light on the ongoing tussle between the Indian Government and the social media giant, Rahul Goel Partner, Anant Legal says

“It has emerged from public reports that Twitter subsequently appointed a lawyer as its compliance/ grievance redressal office- which was rejected by the Ministry of IT stating that the same is not in compliance with the new IT Rules. The new IT Rules state that the compliance officer has to be an employee of the company and an Indian resident citizen.

The petition in the Delhi High Court challenges non-compliance of new IT Rules by Twitter and non-appointment of compliance officer. As far the legal position stands, unless and until the IT Rules are stayed or quashed, all companies are required to comply with the same. Twitter has (now) stated that it is in compliance with the new IT Rules and has also appointed a compliance/ grievance officer”.


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