Delhi HC Dismisses Plea To Implead Elon Musk In A Proceeding Against Twitter With ₹ 25K Cost
The Delhi High Court today dismissed with Rs 25,000 costs a plea seeking to implead Twitter's new owner Elon Musk as party to a petition challenging suspension of a user's account for an alleged violation of its rules.
Justice Yashwant Varma termed the application to be "thoroughly misconceived".
"This application is thoroughly misconceived. It cannot possibly be disputed that a corporate entity is thoroughly represented and therefore, there was no need to file such an application. Accordingly, it is dismissed with a costs of Rs 25,000," the judge said.
At the outset, the court said "even we need entertainment" and asked the counsel for the petitioner if he was serious in prosecuting the application.
To this, Advocate Raghav Awasthi, appearing for the petitioner, said his instructions were to press the application. He said Musk was not only the director but also holds substantial shares in Twitter and was a necessary party in the matter.
The application said that Musk has a very different approach to free speech and, therefore, his views were important to be heard. "Elon Musk has a very different stand on free speech whereby his opinion is that as long as speech does not violate the law of the land in question, the same should not be curtailed by the respondent no. 2 (Twitter)," it claimed.
The High Court was hearing a petition by Dimple Kaul, who claimed that her Twitter handle had more than 2,55,000 followers and was used to post educational content in relation to history, literature, politics, archaeology, Indic culture, non-violence, equality, and women rights.
The petitioner's counsel had contended that Twitter was "deleting profiles as per its own sweet will and they have no right to do so" in law and asserted that the account be restored during the pendency of the petition.
The High Court had earlier sought the stand of Twitter on the petition challenging the "out of the blue" illegal suspension of a user account for alleged violation of its rules.
Twitter's counsel had said a writ petition was not maintainable against Twitter which is a private entity. He had said granting any interim relief in the present cases would be as good as granting final relief.
Kaul has submitted that she was informed by Twitter that her account, which was "followed by several eminent personalities", was suspended for violating the platform's rules against "ban evasion" even when there was no such prior incident.
She has claimed that she was not granted any opportunity of being heard and the "illegal action of the respondent No.2 (Twitter) has caused the petitioner to face the kind of mental and emotional trauma which cannot be expressed in words".
"Petitioner along with her research team put a lot of money and time on researching educational content and posted various threads for information and knowledge of the general public. (On January 20, 2022) Out of the blue, the petitioner received an email from respondent no.2 regarding the suspension of the Twitter account created by the petitioner," the petition filed through lawyer Mukesh Sharma has said.
The petitioner has asserted that Twitter performs a "public function" and is bound by Sections 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as well as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
"There is no sanction for the suo-motu actions of the respondent No.2 in suspending the Twitter Account of the Petitioner under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 either. As a matter of fact, the same could lead to the Respondent No.2 losing its intermediary status (under the law)," the petition has argued.
It has further contended that the suspension is in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution as it is an impairment of the right to free speech and is arbitrary.
With PTI inputs