On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court in the case Wokeflix v. UOI and other connected matters observed and has further granted time to the Centre to respond on the draft regulatory measures, if any, relating to social media platforms including de-platforming of users.
The bunch of pleas were heard by the bench of Justice Yashwant Varma, wherein various petitioners have approached the Court over suspension of their social media accounts, including the petition filed by Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde.
Kirtiman Singh, the counsel appearing for the Centre told the Court that while the amendment to the Rules will take place at “some point of time”, therefore the same will be prospective in nature.
Kirtiman Singh informed the court that the amendment to the Rules will take place some point of time, we don’t really know. The only difficulty is that it will be prospective.
On this, the bench of Justice Varma orally remarked thus that “why will the disposal of any grievances which are existing on the record, why will they not be entitled to be disposed of in terms of Rules and that’s not the retrospective application of Rules. Rules which apply on the date of disposal of application that is what it will be governed.”
Accordingly, time was sought by the Singh to respond in the matter and to inform the Court in case of any development.
However, Singh stated that “Your lordships may fix it for hearing. If in between the amendment comes, then we will be in a position to bring it on record. List it in a few weeks, if there is some development, the court will come back,”.
Thus, the court opined that once the scope of regulatory power that the Centre proposes to invoke is known, then only the Court will know the contours of its jurisdiction to deal with the challenge in question.
The bench of Justice Varma stated that we also want to understand if there is any regulatory mechanism which they propose to implement, whether that will have an impact on this batch of matters.
The bench will now hear the matter on December 19.
Earlier, the Centre had told the Court that Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs) are expected to issue prior notice to the user before taking any action on the user account and that in the failure to comply with the same may amount to a violation of Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules 2021.
It had also been stated that the platforms must respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and should not take down the account itself or completely suspend the user account in all cases.