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The Center on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it would lay down a framework for regulating social media platforms, including their removal of users from the platform. The Center said the proposed framework would be tentative and hence the existing cases of suspension of social media accounts would have to be decided as per the extant rules. The statement was made by the counsel for the central government before Justice Yashwant Verma, who was hearing petitions against suspension of accounts of several social media users, including Twitter users.
Hearing adjourned till December 19
The court said, “We have examined in the context of your possession (previous) order. The amendment will be made sometime, but we don’t know when. Advocate Kirtiman Singh, appearing for the Centre, said it would be tentative and these cases would have to be decided (as per the existing plan). Giving more time to the Center to apprise it of subsequent developments, the court adjourned the hearing of the petitions till December 19. In August, the court had asked the Center whether it was considering any draft regulatory measures relating to social media platforms.
During the hearing, the court questioned why the existing complaints of suspension and deletion of social media accounts should not be dealt with in terms of the proposed framework. Also said that she wants to understand the impact of any new arrangement on the cases before this. The court said that before we take a decision, we also want to understand whether there is any regulatory mechanism which they are proposing to implement, will it have any impact on the petitions. Several petitions related to removal and suspension of social media users are pending in the High Court.
Twitter account permanently suspended for retweeting
The petitions also include a petition against permanent suspension of Twitter account by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde for allegedly re-tweeting two posts. In its affidavit filed in a case against the suspension of a Twitter account, the Center has said that the liberty of an individual cannot be curtailed in the name of social and technological progress and that social media platforms should be restricted to the rights of citizens and in accordance with the Constitution of India. Fundamental rights have to be respected. It has said that social media platforms should not shut down the account itself or suspend it outright in all cases and that complete de-platforming is against the spirit of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.