Karnataka HC Dismisses Twitter Plea Against Centre, Slaps Rs. 50 Lakh Fine

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday dismissed a petition filed by Twitter, challenging several blocking and take-down orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, saying the company’s plea was devoid of merits.

The single-judge bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit which dictated the operative portion of the judgment also imposed a cost of Rs. 50 lakh on Twitter and ordered it to be paid to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority within 45 days.

Reading the operative portion, the HC said, “In the above circumstances this petition being devoid of merits is liable to be dismissed with exemplary costs and accordingly it is. Petitioner is levied with an exemplary cost of Rs. 50 lakh payable to the Karnataka State Legal Service Authority, Bengaluru, within 45 days. If the delay is brooked, it attracts an additional levy of Rs. 5,000 per day.” “I am convinced with the contention of the Centre that they have powers to block tweets and block accounts,” the judge said while dismissing Twitter’s petition.

Back in April, Elon Musk-owned social media platform had informed the High Court of Karnataka that its petition challenging the various takedown orders of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was maintainable, as the concept of reasonableness in Article 19 of the Constitution of India pertaining to Freedom of Speech was applicable to it.

In March, the government informed the High Court of Karnataka that being a significant intermediary, micro-blogging site Twitter had additional responsibility, and it was its duty “to provide details of account holders”.

Additional Solicitor General R Sankaranarayanan, who appeared for the central government, gave examples of “dangerous” tweets that “is going to affect the integrity, sovereignty of India or is going to create a public (dis) order; then naturally we will step in and either we will issue a takedown notice, or we will say block the account.” 

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