Delhi HC Seeks Twitter's Response On Suit Filed By Abhijit Iyer Mitra Over 'Inaccessible' Account
The Delhi High Court today sought Twitter's response on a suit filed by Abhijit Iyer Mitra, seeking restoration of his account on the website that has been "unilaterally banned" and made inaccessible to his followers.
Justice Mini Pushkarna issued a summons to the microblogging website on Iyer's lawsuit and granted it time to file its response.
"Issue summons. Written submissions (be filed) in 30 days," the judge said. The court also sought the Centre's stand on the lawsuit.
In his plea, Iyer said following his tweet in relation to the bail granted by the Supreme Court to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a criminal case, Twitter "unilaterally" banned his account, thereby making it "completely inaccessible" for him to engage with his 1.5 lakh followers on the platform.
The plea also seeks a direction to the Centre to "take action" against Twitter for suspending the plaintiff's account "without following the procedure prescribed by law".
Appearing for the plaintiff, Advocate Raghav Awasthi argued that his client is a fairly "renowned public figure" and the ban is in violation of the applicable information technology rules, and being a defence analyst, if he does not disseminate his views on the war in Ukraine, it would harm his reputation.
"I had posted something and had disclosed no private information. I had merely disclosed who put surety for the bail of Mr Mohammed Zubair, given by the Supreme Court in July, and merely on the basis of this tweet, my access to my Twitter followers has been curtailed, without following the procedure laid down under the IT rules," he said.
The plea has sought restoration of the plaintiff's account on the microblogging platform as well as the tweet in question. It also says that the tweet in question was posted in furtherance of the plaintiff's right to free speech and the right of the public to receive and know fair and truthful information.
Representing Twitter in the matter, senior advocate Sajan Poovayya sought time from the court to file a short affidavit in response to the lawsuit and said the plaintiff's account was not "banned" but was in the "read-only mode" and that his grievance could be redressed if he took down the said tweet.
"They delete that tweet and the account comes back to full normalcy.... But what is being sought is that the so-called tweet, which we say is violative, will not be deleted and it should continue on the platform and the Twitter handle must be restored," Poovayya said.
He also highlighted the delay in the filing of the case as the cause of action arose in July. The matter was listed for further consideration in December.
With PTI inputs