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Sanathan Sanstha moves High Court over Facebook block on pages

At a hearing in the case on Thursday, the counsel for Facebook India told a division bench of Justice M S Sonak and Justice M S Jawalkar they would like to argue on the maintainability of the petition filed by the NGO.

By: Express News Service | Panaji |
June 18, 2021 3:22:05 am
According to the Sanatan Sanstha, the Centre too had failed to protect its fundamental right. (Unsplash/ Representational)

The Sanatan Sanstha has moved the High Court of Bombay at Goa challenging the block on three of its Facebook pages — two of which were created in 2011 and one in 2013.

At a hearing in the case on Thursday, the counsel for Facebook India told a division bench of Justice M S Sonak and Justice M S Jawalkar they would like to argue on the maintainability of the petition filed by the NGO. The bench has adjourned the case till July 8.

The NGO stated in its petition: “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”.

According to its petition in the High Court the block of its pages, in September, 2020, was a “violation of the freedom of expression”. It stated that Facebook was ‘usurping’ the powers of the Central government – the first respondent in the case – and was “curbing the fundamental rights of the citizens of India without following any process of law.”

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The sanstha said that directly blocking its pages “without giving any opportunity to the petitioner is unjust, unfair and needs to be cured.” It stated that only on directions of the Central government or a court, could Facebook have blocked its pages.

According to the Sanatan Sanstha, the Centre too had failed to protect its fundamental right. “As this is a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner and it is the duty of the Government to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens of India and as there is a complete failure on the part of the respondents to protect the constitutional rights of the petitioner,” the petition stated.

The petition states that the Central government and the Ministry of Electronics and Information – first two respondents in the case – technology should regulate social media platforms like Facebook so that they “do not shift their stands conveniently by claiming status of an ‘intermediary’ u/Information and Technology Act and usurping the power of Respondent. No. 1 and 2 by illegally”.

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“Even in the larger public interests such arbitrary acts need to be regulated by the Resp. No. 1 and 2 and social media is becoming important and influential mode of communication and publication,” the petition stated.

The Sanatan Sanstha said that the Facebook pages were created in view of “growing social, spiritual, religious and patriotic work” that it was carrying out. “Petitioner trust conducts free of cost training programes and workshops to train common people as to how to improve spiritually by overcoming adverse personality traits. Petitioner also takes up temple cleansing drives at many places. Thus, many people in particular and the society in general has benefited from the activities of the Petitioner,” the NGO, based in Ponda, described its work in the petition.

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First published on: 18-06-2021 at 03:22:05 am
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