‘Govt can issue us notice over non-compliance, we’ll respond’: Twitter to Delhi HC


Twitter on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that the government can send them a notice in case they are not compliant with the social media rules and the company will respond to it. The court also said that the government was free to take action against the company in case of non-compliance with the rules.

Twitter’s legal counsel Sajan Poovayya made this remark when Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, who was appearing for the government, said that the company has to comply with the entirety of the social media rules. 

The company’s response came during the hearing of a case filed by lawyer Amit Acharya, in which he claimed non-compliance with the new social media rules by Twitter. In the last hearing in the case on July 6, the Delhi High Court had given Twitter two days to inform the court about its compliance with the rules.

Before the hearing started on Thursday, the microblogging site had filed a short reply with the court informing it that it had appointed an interim compliance officer on July 6 and will appoint an interim grievance officer by July 11 and an interim nodal officer in two weeks.

Twitter also, for the first time officially said that it will file its first compliance report as per the social media rules no later than July 11. Companies like Google. Facebook, Instagram and Koo have already released their compliance reports. 

During the hearing, the company also sought eight weeks to appoint permanent compliance, grievance and nodal officers. However, Justice Rekha Palli instantly denied giving them that much time. 

There was also a discussion during the hearing about the meaning of the word “interim”. 

Twitter’s counsel informed the court that this concept of interim arises because Twitter does not have a permanent address in India and operates from the premises of a third party. 

Twitter also told the court that it was “in the process” of setting up a permanent liaison office in India and “could not hire permanent employees under a permanent office address as it raises taxation issues for Twitter Inc.”

Justice Palli questioned Twitter’s counsel Poovayya whether the interim officials would take full responsibility under the rules. To this, Poovayya submitted that they would. 

Senior Advocate Tushar Rao, who was appearing for the petitioner Acharya, was irked at Twitter’s submission. He accused Twitter of delaying the compliance process by weeks by making interim appointments. 

While pronouncing the order, Justice Palli said, “this court is not able to appreciate why the said note refers to the three officers as interim”. 

However, since the company had not filed an affidavit, the court gave it two weeks to file it which should also include submissions from Twitter’s interim compliance and grievance officers stating that they will abide by the IT Rules. Until then, the court refused to grant any protection to Twitter and said that the government was free to take any action against the company for non-compliance as it deems fit. 

For now, Twitter’s correspondence address in India remains the Bengaluru address of the law firm Poovayya & Co. Twitter informed the Delhi High Court that the law firm has been handling all legal matters for them in India. 

Justice Palli listed the case for July 28. 

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