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A single judge bench of the Delhi High Court today while hearing a bunch of pleas filed by users like Wokeflix, @Bharadwajspeaks and others challenging the suspension of their user handles by Twitter Inc told the social media giant to “wake up”.
"It is high time that you wake up", remarked Justice Yashwant Varma while replying to the argument made by Twitter on the maintainability of the writ petitions filed by the users.
Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court had issued notice on a petition by "Wokeflix", an unregistered social media group engaged in posting political satires, against the permanent suspension of its Twitter handle and temporary suspension of Instagram handle.
Citing that while many incidents of serious deviations of misreporting remain unchecked, Wokeflix had argued that that the suspension of its accounts are "absolutely arbitrary".
In January, the High Court had sought response from Twitter and Centre against the suspension of accounts with the well known handle " @Bharadwajspeaks" and user handle "@Suyashdeep".
Today, Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for Twitter argued before High Court that a writ petition is not maintainable against Twitter, a private entity. He further submitted that instead a civil suit should be filed by the aggrieved petitioners for their grievances.
Responding to such argument, the Court noted that this was not the first instance that an aggrieved Twitter user had approached the courts and said that it was going to hear the writ petitions since notice was already issued.
The Court in a lighter vein also asked if the Big 4 (referring to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) were present before it.
Justice Varma said,"Which of the Big 4 are here? Not the financial entities but the new Big 4?"
Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi also appeared before Court on behalf of Twitter.
Noting this the Court remarked that this must be a big issue for twitter since they have engaged two Senior Advocates.
Senior Advocate & Additional Solicitor General of India, Chetan Sharma appeared for Union of India & submitted before Court that the Centre was committed in safeguarding the rights of the users on the social media platforms as guaranteed under Article 14, 19 and 21.
The ASG added that the platforms discharging public functions were “duty bound to ensure that there was no infringement of such rights of the citizens.”
"Twitter cannot be high and mighty", added the ASG.
Justice Varma laughingly said in reply, "You (Centre) would want that power all to yourself?"
The petitioners also informed the Court that the reply from YouTube had not been received till date.
Accordingly, the Court went on to direct all respondents who have not filed their counters to do so in a weeks time. It has further granted two weeks to all the concerned parties to file their written submissions.
The matter will now be heard on April 18.
Advocate Raghav Awasthi appears for all petitioner(s) in the plea(s).
Case Title: Wokeflix through Megha Choubey vs. UoI & Ors | Dimple Kaul vs. UOI & Ors. | Suyash Deep Rao vs. UOI & Ors.
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