Delhi High Court remains unimpressed with Twitter's verbal assurance over compliance with rules The Court instructs Twitter to file affidavits stating that "interim" officers appointed under IT Rules will be held responsible Trouble for American social media giants continue as the Delhi High Court (HC) Thursday appeared unimpressed with verbal assurances given by Twitter...
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Delhi High Court remains unimpressed with Twitter's verbal assurance over compliance with rules
The Court instructs Twitter to file affidavits stating that "interim" officers appointed under IT Rules will be held responsible
Trouble for American social media giants continue as the Delhi High Court (HC) Thursday appeared unimpressed with verbal assurances given by Twitter regarding compliance to IT Rules, 2021.
Twitter finally indicated its willingness to fall in line by submitting to the HC that it would appoint regular persons for the positions of Resident Grievance Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Nodal Contact Person within eight weeks.
Justice Rekha Palli, who was hearing the plea filed against Twitter by one Amit Acharya, looked unimpressed by Twitter's verbal assurance regarding the appointment of "interim" officers under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) and directed Twitter Inc. to file affidavits stating that they (interim officers) will be responsible for dealing with any grievances raised.
The HC made it clear that it would not grant Twitter any interim protection from action for non-compliance with the IT Rules, 2021, and that the Central government would be free to proceed on any breach thereof.
Petitioner Amit Acharya had sought action against Twitter users for their tweets on a video from Delhi's satellite township Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh showing a Muslim man being assaulted. He had sought the court's direction to Twitter to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer as required under Rule 4 of the IT Rules, 2021.
While assuring regular appointments of Resident Grievance Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Nodal Contact Person within eight weeks, said it would appoint Interim Chief Compliance Officer by 6 July 2021, Interim Resident Grievance Officer on or before 11 July 2021 and Interim Nodal Contact Person within two weeks.
The court took objection to the fact that the officers were described as "interim" when the Rules do not provide for any such position. Justice Palli also pointed out that the note submitted by Twitter was not accompanied by an affidavit.
Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya who appeared for Twitter, highlighted the difficulties in appointing persons to permanent positions when Twitter Inc. did not have a permanent office in India.
"Permanent appointments made by Twitter may lead to tax issues...In eight weeks, there will be a permanent liaison officer," Poorvayya sought to assure the HC, suggesting that the interim officers would be responsible for compliance with the IT Rules, 2021.
Poovayya also submitted before the court that these appointments were being made without prejudice to Twitter's right to challenge the IT Rules, 2021.
"I had said that from the start. As long as the Rules are there, you have to comply," Justice Palli said in response.
Poovayya also requested two weeks to file physical copies of the affidavits saying that they required to be signed, notarized and sent from the United States.
"Two weeks time is granted. But scanned copies of affidavits of persons being appointed will be filed by two days. No interim order protecting Twitter. It will be open for R1 (Centre) to take action against Twitter in case of any breach of the Rules," Justice Palli ruled.
The court further directed Twitter to "come up with a clear response", saying otherwise Twitter can be in trouble.
The Court also sought information on Twitter's compliance with other provisions of the IT Rules, 2021 by the next date of hearing which has been listed for 28 July.