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Business News/ News / India/  Twitter plea challenging Centre's blocking orders dismissed by Karnataka HC; 50 lakh fine imposed on the company
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Twitter plea challenging Centre's blocking orders dismissed by Karnataka HC; ₹50 lakh fine imposed on the company

The Karnataka HC dismissed Twitter's petition challenging blocking and take-down orders by the Indian government, and ordered the company to pay a fine of ₹50 lakh within 45 days. The judge stated that the government has the power to block tweets and accounts.

The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by Twitter Inc on Friday challenging several blocking and take-down orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, saying the company's plea was devoid of meritsPremium
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by Twitter Inc on Friday challenging several blocking and take-down orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, saying the company's plea was devoid of merits

The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by Twitter Inc on Friday challenging several blocking and take-down orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, saying the company's plea was devoid of merits. The High Court has moreover imposed a cost of 50 lakh on the company. The fine has to be paid to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority within 45 days.

The single-judge bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit which dictated the operative portion of the judgement also imposed a cost of 50 lakh on Twitter and ordered it to be paid to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority within 45 days.

Reading the operative portion, the HC said, "In the above circumstances this petition being devoid of merits is liable to be dismissed with exemplary costs and accordingly it is. Petitioner is levied with an exemplary cost of 50 lakh payable to the Karnataka State Legal Service Authority, Bengaluru, within 45 days. If delay is brooked, it attracts an additional levy of 5,000 per day."

"I am convinced with contention of the Centre that they have powers to block tweets and block accounts," the judge said while dismissing Twitter's petition.

Reacting on the High Court's decision, Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, “"The court upholds our stand. Law of the land must be followed."

Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar has also reacted on Karnataka HC's order and said all social media platforms have to comply with the law of the land.

Twitter had claimed that as per 69A, the account holders had to be informed about taking down their tweets and accounts, but no notice was issued by the Ministry to these account holders.

The Government issued notices to the Compliance Officer of Twitter on June 4, 2022 and again on June 6, 2022 to appear before it and explain why the Blocking Orders were not carried out and why action should not be initiated against it.

Twitter replied on June 9 that the content against which it had not followed the blocking orders does not seem to be a violation of Section 69A.

On June 27, 2022 the Government issued another notice stating Twitter was violating its directions.

On June 29, Twitter replied asking the Government to reconsider the direction on the basis of the doctrine of proportionality. On June 30, 2022 the Government withdrew blocking orders on 10 account-level URLs but gave an additional list of 27 URLs to be blocked. On July one, 10 more accounts were blocked. Compiling the orders "under protest," Twitter approached the HC with the petition challenging the orders. Justice Dixit had completed hearing the arguments and reserved the judgement on April 21, 2023. The operative portion of the judgement was pronounced in the court on June 30.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

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Published: 30 Jun 2023, 01:15 PM IST
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