The Delhi High Court today turned down a plea for quashing the Centre’s notifications, blocking web pages, including those of Facebook, Google and Twitter, for hosting “inflammatory” contents, triggering panic among north east states’ natives, living across the country.
“We are not inclined to entertain this as PIL,” the bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said and dismissed the plea filed by a group of law students to anull the government’s last month’s notifications. The petitioners had sought the court to “direct the government to unblock the Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) covered under the notifications dated August 8, 19, 20 and 21…”
The government had directed the national and international social networking sites to block their webpages having inflammatory and harmful content, particularly morphed images and videos, which were used to provoke Muslims to target people from the north east.
The content of the websites and anonymous SMSes, warning north east states’ natives of an imminent attack on them after Ramzan had led to the exodus of northeast migrants from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the government had said while issuing the notification.
“The notifications (under the Information and Technology Act and its rules) are patently unconstitutional and they violate the fundamental rights of the freedom of speech and expression by blocking access to the websites without giving a hearing to the content owners and other affected people,” as per the plea.
The petitioners’ counsel said the telecome service providers, Internet service providers, search engines, online payment sites and cyber cafes were mostly affected due to the notifications. The bench, however, said. “Let the affected party approach the court. We can not treat this as PIL.”