Blocking Orders: Indian Government Questions Twitter’s Credentials To Sue
The central government has questioned Twitter’s locus to file the petition and the alleged delay in complying with blocking orders
The central government has called Twitter Inc. a ‘’habitual offender’’ for failing to comply with its orders. It has questioned the company’s legal standing to challenge directions to block certain accounts and content on the platform.
This submission was made before the Karnataka High Court in response to Twitter’s plea against blocking orders by the government against 39 accounts.
Twitter As Foreign Company Cannot Seek Enforcement Of Fundamental Rights
In its submissions, the government has questioned the maintainability of Twitter's challenge, and argued against the platform’s ability to approach the high court seeking enforcement of fundamental rights through a writ petition.
A writ petition is filed to challenge the violation of any fundamental right which is guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India.
The writ petition in this case was filed by a ‘foreign company’ pursuing a commercial activity for profit and its status is no greater than that of a social media intermediary, the government has told the court.
Twitter is neither a natural person nor incorporated in India and the petition filed by the company has no local address or locally incorporated entity, the government said.
Government Defends Its Blocking Orders
The central government has defended the process of ordering blocking of accounts on grounds that sufficient safeguards are in place.
For instance, it said, the review committee takes a fresh look at the blocking orders issued by the Ministry of Information and Technology. The committee is chaired by cabinet secretariat and its members include secretary, Department of Telecommunications and secretary, Ministry of Law & Justice which meets at least once every two months to review the previous orders.
This review was also conducted for the orders which have been challenged by Twitter, the government has told the high court.
It has questioned Twitter’s ‘’unfair conduct’’ saying that it has been a habitual non-compliant platform for several years and only after reminders and show cause notices did it comply with the blocking directions.
The last minute compliance with the orders was just before approaching the Karnataka High Court against 39 orders and Twitter has failed to explain this, the government said.
The Karnataka High Court has given time to Twitter to file its response, and will start hearing case after that.