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Nothing Remains In Plea Alleging Non-Compliance Of IT Rules By Twitter After Centre Is Satisfied:HC

Justice Rekha Palli further noted that Twitter has already dealt with the complaint raised by the petitioner -- lawyer Amit Acharya -- with regards to certain objectionable tweets and thus the petition has become infructuous.

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The Delhi High Court Tuesday closed proceedings in a petition alleging non-compliance of new IT Rules by Twitter, saying that “nothing remained” in view of the Central government being satisfied with the micro-blogging platform appointing a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) and Nodal Contact Person.

Justice Rekha Palli further noted that Twitter has already dealt with the complaint raised by the petitioner -- lawyer Amit Acharya -- with regards to certain objectionable tweets and thus the petition has become infructuous.

While disposing of the petition, the judge also clarified that the petitioner was free to take appropriate legal recourse against the action taken by Twitter on his complaint against the allegedly objectionable tweets.

“What remains in this? Nothing remains now.. Prayers are satisfied. You challenge the order if you have a grievance,” observed the judge.

“Respondent No 1 (Centre) has filed an affidavit categorically stating that Respondent No 2 (Twitter) is fully complying with the IT Rules. In view of the aforesaid, which is not denied by the petitioner, nothing further survives,” the court said. 

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 seek to regulate dissemination and publication of content in cyberspace, including social media platforms and were notified in February by the central government. 

Last month, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had told the court that Twitter has appointed CCO, RGO, and Nodal Contact Person in compliance with the new IT Rules.

In its affidavit, the Centre stated that Twitter has clearly acknowledged that the personnel (CCO, Nodal Contact Person, and RGO) are appointed as the company''s employees and not as ''contingent workers''.

“Twitter has provided the names of the said appointed personnel and their respective positions also. The said affidavit (of Twitter) mentions their employment start date as August 4, 2021. Twitter has further enclosed their employment contracts along with the said affidavit as proof of such appointments,” the ministry said.

The court had on August 10 directed the Centre to file a short affidavit in response to Twitter''s affidavit in which the company had shown compliance with IT Rules.

“I submit that Twitter has appointed the personnel in compliance to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 hereinafter referred as IT Rules, 2021,” N Samaya Balan, working as Scientist-E in the Cyber Law Group with the MEITY, had said in the affidavit.

The Centre''s affidavit had further said the IT Rules, 2021 is “a law of the land” and Twitter is “mandatorily required to comply with the IT Rules 2021 in its entirety”.  

It had said that any non-compliance amounted to a breach of the provisions of the IT Rules, 2021 thereby leading to Twitter losing its immunity conferred under section 79(I) of the IT Act, 2000.

It had further said that the IT Rules, 2021 also mandate that a Significant Social media Intermediary (SSMI) must have a physical contact address in India published on its public platforms, for the purpose of receiving communications addressed to it.

On July 28, the court had expressed displeasure over Twitter appointing a contingent worker as CCO and said that the social media platform was in non-compliance with the new IT Rules.

In his petitioner, the petitioner-lawyer, represented by Senior lawyer G Tushar Rao, claimed that he came to know about the alleged non-compliance of IT Rules by Twitter when he tried to lodge a complaint against a couple of tweets.

He submitted that when the new IT Rules took effect from February 25, the Centre had given three months to every social media intermediary, including Twitter, to comply with them.

However, in spite of the three-month period getting over on May 25, no resident grievance officer was appointed by Twitter to deal with complaints regarding tweets on its platform, it was contended.

The petition thus sought a direction to Twitter to appoint a resident grievance officer without further delay as well as a direction to the Centre to ensure that the IT rules are complied with.


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