If Twitter wants to function in India, it needs to comply with IT Rules 2021: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday pulled up Twitter Inc for alleged non-compliance with the IT Rules, 2021 and said that it was not giving Twitter any protection and the centre was free to take any action against them. The court further said that it has already made it clear that if Twitter wants to function in India, they need to comply.

Delhi HC says Twitter needs to fully comply with IT Rules 2021

The Court's observation came after the Additional Solicitor General submitted that the Union of India had granted three months time to all Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs), and from the past 42 days there has been complete non-compliance from Twitter.

A Bench of Justice Rekha Palli while deferring the matter for 8 July, asked Twitter Counsel Sr Sajan Poovayya to make a 'clear stand' from Twitter over compliance under the new IT rules.

The Court further asked Twitter Inc Counsel to take clear instructions on not only the appointment of the grievance officer but on all aspects pending compliance under the new rules.

The Bench also expressed displeasure over Twitter delaying the appointment of a grievance redressal officer. Justice Rekha Palli asked, "How long does your (Twitter's) process take? If Twitter thinks it can take as long as it wants in our country, I'll not allow that."

Twitter is in defiance of the law for not appointing the grievance redressal officer as necessitated under new IT Rules, added the Court during the hearing. Meanwhile, the Senior Advocate appearing for Twitter tried to take clear instructions from Twitter Inc in San Francisco but was unable to connect due to differences in time zone.

Representational image.

Twitter says it's in the final stage of appointing a Resident Grievance Officer

Twitter Inc in its reply recently had told the Delhi High Court that the interim Resident Grievance Officer of the microblogging site withdrew his candidature on 21 June and it was in the final stages of appointing a new person for the post of Resident Grievance Officer. The company said it is in the final stages of appointing a replacement while in the meanwhile the grievances of Indian users are being addressed by the Grievance Officer.

Twitter also wrote in the reply: “The petitioner has instituted this writ petition in respect of his complaint dated 26.05. 2021. The relationship between the petitioner and the answering respondent (Twitter) is contractual, as more particularly set out hereinabove. A writ petition is therefore not maintainable.”

The petition was filed by Delhi lawyer Amit Acharya through advocates Akash Vajpai and Manish Kumar on 26 May 2021.

Twitter in breach of the law of the land, says Centre

In an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court, the Centre on Monday has said Twitter Inc has failed to comply with the IT Rules, 2021 as on 1 July, 2021.

Chief Compliance Officer has not been appointed, the position of the Resident Grievance Officer is vacant, the position of Nodal Contact Person, (even on an interim basis), is vacant, the physical contact address, which was shown to be there on 29 May, 2021 is once again not available on Twitter's website, stated the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in its affidavit.

The Centre also stated any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the provisions of the IT Rules, 2021 thereby leading to Twitter inc losing its immunity conferred under section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000. It said that the IT Rules, 2021 are the law of the land and Twitter Inc is mandatorily required to comply with the same.

"The immunity conferred on intermediaries under section 79(1) is a conditional immunity subject to the intermediary satisfying the conditions under sections 79(2) and 79(3). As provided in Rule 7, failure to observe the IT rules, 2021 results in provisions of Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 not being applicable to such an intermediary," read the affidavit.

The Court was hearing a petition seeking direction to the Central government to pass necessary instructions to Twitter Communication India Private Limited and Twitter Inc to appoint Resident Grievance Officer under Rule 4 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021 without any delay.

The petitioner has said that a petition has been filed against the non-compliance of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 by the Twitter Communication India Private Limited & Twitter Inc and seeking an appropriate Writ or instruction against Respondent Centre Government and Twitter to perform its statutory and executive duty under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

According to Rule 4(c) of the IT Rule, every Significant Social Media Intermediary has to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer, who shall, subject to clause (b), be responsible for the functions referred to in sub-rule (2) of rule 3, stated the petition.

With inputs from ANI

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