The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to place before it the steps taken to comply with the Madras High Court direction to ban the ‘Blue Whale’ challenge, an internet game that has been linked to the deaths of several children worldwide.
Taking a serious view of the Blue Whale Challenge game, the Madras High Court had on September 4 directed the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to explore possibility of banning it.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar gave the central government time till October 12 to file an affidavit indicating the steps taken by it to restrict access to the controversial game allegedly linked to several deaths of children worldwide.
The court listed the matter for hearing on October 12 after Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the bench that a similar matter will be heard by the Supreme Court on October 9.
The Delhi Police told the high court that it has directed all social media service providers like Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Yahoo, Rediff and Twitter to block or take down any link or reference to the game and bar access to contents related to it.
In a status report, the police also said it has issued an advisory on Twitter for parents and guardians detailing steps they can take to keep their children out of harm’s way.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Gurmeet Singh seeking immediate directions to restrain internet firms from uploading any material pertaining to the challenge game, citing cases of suicide by children in India and abroad.
Google India, which is a party in the case, told the bench that it was not a necessary party and Google Inc should be impleaded.
Facebook India also raised a similar plea in its application seeking its deletion from the array of parties, saying that services for users outside USA and Canada is provided by Facebook Ireland.
On August 15, the Ministry of Electronics and IT had directed the internet majors – Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo – to immediately remove the links of the deadly Blue Whale Challenge.
The sudden popularity of the lethal online game, in which the final task requires the player to commit suicide, had forced the government to issue directions to the internet firms to remove its links.
The Delhi high court had on August 17 expressed concern over children allegedly committing suicide while playing the game.
The Blue Whale Challenge is reportedly a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks to complete over a period of 50 days and the final task leads him or her to commit suicide. The player is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge.
More than six children across India in the age group of 12-19 years have taken their lives allegedly while playing this game within a span of two weeks, reports have said.
Deaths of teenagers have also been reported from other countries including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile and Italy, the PIL has said.
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