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Friday, July 23, 2021

Neither originator, nor publisher; writ petition not maintainable since we’re US-based: Twitter to Delhi HC

The reply has been filed in response to a petition alleging that the micro-blogging site has not appointed a resident grievance officer in accordance with the IT Rules 2021.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
Updated: July 3, 2021 8:18:38 pm
(File Photo/Reuters)

Twitter has told the Delhi High Court that it was in the final stages of appointing a Resident Grievance Officer after the person engaged as interim arrangement withdrew his candidature on June 21. The micro-blogging site has, however, also argued that a writ petition was not maintainable against it under Article 226, since it is a corporation registered in the USA and that it was neither the originator nor the publisher of the electronics records transmitted through its communication system or platform.

The reply has been filed in response to a petition alleging that the micro-blogging site has not appointed a resident grievance officer in accordance with the IT Rules 2021.

The court on May 31 had granted Twitter three weeks’ time to state on record that it has appointed a resident grievance officer and observed that it has to comply with, if they have not been stayed.

“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,” Twitter has contended in the reply.

Twitter had appointed an interim Resident Grievance Officer in May and uploaded his details on the website but even before the steps could be taken to completely formalise the petition, he withdrew his candidature, according to the reply.

The petition, filed by a lawyer Amit Acharya through advocates Akash Vajpai and Manish Kumar, stated that on May 26, Acharya came across “defamatory, false and untrue” tweets on Twitter made by two verified users and wanted to raise a grievance against them before the resident grievance officer under the IT Rules 2021. The petition alleges that the “objectionable tweets” were made by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and journalist Swati Chaturvedi.

“However, the petitioner was unable to find the contact details of the resident grievance officer on the website of Twitter… for raising his grievance,” it was alleged in the petition.

The petition also contended that the petitioner has a legal and statutory right under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021 to raise complaints against any defamatory, untrue and false tweets or post on Twitter before its resident grievance officer as it is a significant social media intermediary. Twitter has argued that the ground is “incorrect and denied”.

In response, the micro-blogging site has also told the court that it was incumbent on the petitioner to wait for a reasonable time before preferring the plea. It further told the court that the complaint has been considered and disposed of since the filing of the petition and thus nothing survives in it.

“Petitioner claims to be aggrieved by tweets… However, the authors of those tweets have not impleaded as respondents. Petitioner cannot seek any relief which directly or indirectly touches upon those tweets without impleading the authors of the tweets and for this reason alone, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed,” reads the reply.

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