The Sanatan Sanstha had moved the court challenging the blocking of the three pages, two of which were created in 2011 and one in 2013. “It is also pertinent to note that the accounts contained articles, news, guidance about Hindu Dharma and the attacks thereon and thus it has nothing to do with any commercial activities,” it stated in its petition.
According to the petition, the blocking of the pages in September 2020 was a “violation of the freedom of expression”.
A division bench of Justices M Sonak and M S Jawalkar asked Sanatan Sanstha’s lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar whether this was an issue that could be raised through a writ petition before the court. Punalekar argued his grievance was not against Facebook but the immunity it enjoyed as an intermediary. “Either they follow Indian laws or they don’t,” he said.
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Arguing for Facebook, senior counsel Darius Khambata said as the intermediary, Facebook did not have a proactive duty of checking all material on the platform. “But if I [Facebook] receive an order from a court or a government authority… then I am bound to expeditiously comply with that order,” he said. He argued that Facebook, as an intermediary platform, did not exercise a public function or a public duty and hence, the issue raised in the writ petition was not maintainable.
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