The Delhi High Court on Thursday categorically told Twitter it was in violation of the May 26 deadline to comply with the new Information Technology (IT) Rules, and thus, the court will not extend any protection to it in case the government requires any action against it for breach of law.
“Won’t protect you if Centre takes any action against you…You are actually in contempt as you didn’t follow what you said that day… You are already in violation of deadline,” the higher court mentioned.
Justice Rekha Palli also questioned Twitter for employing prefix “interim” in appointing resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer or nodal officer, and directed it to file an affidavit that these interim officials would be completely accountable for the company’s conduct beneath IT Rules and would take complete duty of the tasks assigned to them.
Taking a hard stand, the court refused to give eight weeks’ time, as sought by Twitter, to comply with the guidelines and directed it to file a notarised and scanned affidavit in this regard inside two weeks. The matter has been posted for next hearing on July 28.
The court also observed that Twitter had committed contempt of court by not filing a final affidavit in spite of obtaining resolved to do so in the preceding hearing.
Reiterating that no action has so far been taken by the court against the microblogging platform, the Centre, via Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, argued that no American court would have ever granted such a leeway to an Indian pharma or an IT organization.
“I have told them they have to comply with the rules. I am not giving them any protection. If they are in defiance, you are free to take action. I have already made it clear if they want to work, they have to follow rules,” Justice Palli told Sharma.
Questioning Twitter engaging services of an “interim” officer via a third party contractor, Sharma sought complete compliance with Indian law.
Earlier in the day, Twitter filed an affidavit just before the HC in search of an eight-week time period for appointment of nodal and grievance officers to comply with the new IT Rules. However, the social media firm mentioned it had a ideal to challenge the legality of the IT Rules, but maintained that it was striving to comply with the Indian law.
Indicating that it will present its 1st compliance report beneath the new digital guidelines to the Centre by July 11, Twitter in its reply to HC mentioned “the company will take eight weeks to comply with the appointment of the resident grievance redressal officer. The company is also in the process of setting up a liaison office in India. The liaison office in India will be the permanent physical contact address for all communication under the new IT Rules”.
Senior lawyer Sajan Poovayya on behalf of Twitter submitted that opening of a permanent workplace in India will lead to tax challenges, and as a result the organization is employing the fourth floor, The Estate, 121 Dickenson Road, Bengaluru 560 042, as its physical speak to address.
The microblogging web-site also informed that it had appointed an Indian resident as interim chief compliance officer on July 6, whose services have been engaged through a third-party contractor.
Explaining the use of the word “interim” in its affidavit, Poovayya argued that it made interim appointments as it does not have a permanent workplace in India and also assured the court that its legal obligations beneath IT Rules will be fulfilled by interim officers.
As reported earlier, the ministry of electronics and facts technologies (MeitY) had on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that Twitter has not complied with the IT Rules and thus lost the immunity offered to an intermediary beneath Section 79 of the IT Act.
In its affidavit, MeitY mentioned in spite of the 3 months’ time granted to all considerable social media intermediaries to comply with the IT Rules 2021 obtaining expired on May 26, Twitter failed to completely comply with the very same.