Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: While hearing Facebook Inc’s petition asking Supreme Court to hear all cases related to demands for linking Aadhaar to social media accounts and tracing the source of WhatsApp messages, the Court said that there has to be a balance between privacy and how to govern. The court, hence, issued notice to Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, the centre and Tamil Nadu asking for their response by September 13 on whether the petitions should be transferred from high courts across India to the Supreme Court. Various cases are being heard by the high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

The Court said,

“There is a conflict between privacy and how the government should run the country when crimes are committed. There has to be a balance… under what condition information can be given and to whom,”

Facebook and WhatsApp, asking that all petitions be transferred to the top court, said it was a matter of high magnitude and affected the privacy of the entire nation.

On Monday, the Tamil Nadu government had told the Supreme Court that social media profiles of users need to be linked with Aadhaar numbers to check the circulation of fake, defamatory and pornographic content as also anti-national and terror material. However, Facebook Inc resisted the state’s suggestion on grounds that the sharing of the 12-digit Aadhaar number, the biometric unique identity, would violate privacy policy of users.

Facebook Inc said it cannot share the Aadhaar number with a third party as the content on its instant messaging WhatsApp was end-to-end encrypted and no one can access it.

The Tamil Nadu government, which is deep into a case related to the deadly Blue Whale game, argued that the centre was struggling to find out who the creator of the game was and who gives directions. Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing Tamil Nadu, said,

“Someone says he is a young person from Russia. A number of people have died in India playing the Blue Whale. Let the Madras High Court continue with its hearing,”

The Supreme Court said,

“We are aware of Blue Whale. What is happening in dark web is worse than Blue Whale. The idea of the Madras High court expanding the issue was that if need be, shouldn’t the intermediary inform the police about details of person for crime detection? We are not examining the merits of the case, only dealing with the transfer of the cases to the Supreme Court.”

(Source: NDTV)

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by media,

Violation of Free Speech Law | Donald Trump, the U.S. President cannot block critics from his twitter account as the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan stated the following:

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilises a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise – open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”

The above ruling case from the case on behalf of seven individuals who had been blocked by the president.

It has been alleged that the said Act by President Trump is in violation of the Constitution.

The Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling in the case of Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump that the President’s Twitter account constituted a “public forum.”

Background

The Knight First Amendment Institute at New York’s Columbia University filed a lawsuit in July 2017 against the President on behalf of seven Twitter users, alleging that he did not have the right to block individuals who posted critical comments in response to his tweets.


[Source: BBC]

[Image Credits: BBC]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Bench of Arvind Singh Sangwan J., imposed the fine on Vishal Dadlani and Tehseen Poonawala of Rs 10 lakhs each for hurting the sentiments of the Jain Community by insulting the Jain Saint Tarun Sagar on twitter, even though the FIR was quashed against the criminal charges registered against them. 

A case under Sections 295-A, 153-A and 509 of the Penal Code, 1860 was filed by the respondent/complainant against the petitioners (Vishal Dadlani and Tehseen Poonawala) for hurting the belief, religious feelings of the Jain Community and Jain Monk Tarun Sagar. The petitioner posted the photograph of Jain Monk (Muni) Tarun Sagar, when he was addressing the Haryana State Legislative Assembly and another photo by way of Photoshop, the photograph of a lady whose face was not shown, in a sitting posture wearing only undergarments was clubbed and posted along with the photograph of Jain Muni by Petitioner 2. 

Learned counsel for the petitioners, Karuna Nandy, submitted that there was no mens rea on the part of the petitioner to commit any offence and even the petitioner has tendered his apology to the Jain Muni Tarun Sagar, which was accepted by him by way of print media. She further submitted that a rational criticism of religious tenants, pounded in restraint language does not amount to an offence either under Sections 153-A or 295-A IPC.

Learned counsel for the respondent, Khushbir K. Bhullar, submitted that there are serious allegations against the petitioners for hurting the religious feelings of the complainant and the followers of the Jain Saints. The entire Jain fraternity is defamed before the public in large by using electronic media, to spread the religious discontent and hurt their sentiments and therefore, the FIR was rightly registered. 

The Court opined that the country has witnessed large scale violent protest on incitement made by using social media platform, thereby, causing extensive damage to public property and therefore it was appropriate to impose the costs of Rs 10 lakhs each on the petitioners – Vishal Dadlani and Tehseen Poonawala, so that in future they may not mock at any head of a religious sect, just to gain publicity on social media like Twitter.  The Court ordered that the FIR registered against the parties to be quashed and gave the following instruction for the cost by parties i.e. “The petitioner – Tehseen Poonawala will deposit the costs of `5 lacs with the Tarun Kranti Manch Trust (Regd.), Defence Colony, Delhi (a Trust created by late Jain Muni Tarun Sagar) and will also deposit a costs of 5 lacs with the Poor Patient’s Fund (Prabh Aasra) in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research at Chandigarh. The petitioner – Vishal Dadlani will deposit the costs of 5 lacs with the Shri Digamber Jain Mandir Trust, Sector 27, Chandigarh and 5 lacs with the Punjab and Haryana High Court Advocates Welfare Fund.” [Vishal Dadlani v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 446, decided on 29-04-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Under the Code, Participants have voluntarily undertaken to establish a high priority communication channel with the nodal officers designated by ECI. Participants including BIGO, ByteDance, Facebook, Google, Sharechat and Twitter have also agreed to take action on content reported by the nodal officer, expeditiously, in accordance with the law.

The Chief Election Commissioner in his remarks appreciated the proactive steps taken by the Association and its members [participants] to ensure transparency in regards to paid political advertisement by maintaining a repository of political advertisement with information such as the sponsor, expenditure and targeted reach of such content in an aggregated manner. Participants have built the technology to upload MCMC certification. Participants have also committed to taking action on paid advertisements violating MCMC certification requirement under notification by the ECI.

IAMAI will act as the liaison between the Participants and the ECI. Collectively, IAMAI and the member Participants of the Code of Ethics remain committed to ensuring free, fair, and ethical electoral process.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Punjab and Haryana: Terming the instant petition seeking a direction for the State to register a FIR against celebrated playback singer Sonu Nigam for his ‘anti-Islamic’ tweets, as a cheap mode of gaining publicity by making a respected celebrity a scapegoat in the name of religion, the Bench of M.M.S. Bedi, J., observed that Sonu Nigam’s recent tweets against the use of loudspeakers during ‘Azan’ does not violate Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution curtailing the freedom to practice any religion. Referring to a Calcutta High Court decision in Moulana Mufti Syed Md. Noorur Rehman Barkati v. State of West Bengal, 1998 SCC OnLine Cal 73, it was held that ‘Azan’ is an essential part of Islam; however the use of loudspeakers is not an essential part of ‘Azan’ itself.

Very recently Sonu Nigam in a series of tweets on Twitter expressed his anguish over loudspeakers being used during the morning ‘Azan’. His tweets however created a huge controversy which led to the filing of the instant petition. The petitioner, a Muslim alleged that Sonu Nigam via his ‘anti- Azan’ tweets has not only violated his Fundamental Right to practice his religion, but he also intended to outrage religious feelings of a particular class (in this case Muslims) which is an offence under Section 295A IPC.

Perusing Nigam’s tweets, the Court observed that the tweets are well within the parameter of Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression enshrined under Article 19(1)(a). Moreover the tweets instead of showing disrespect to any religion, merely criticizes the use of loudspeakers for religious proposes. The use of the word ‘gundagardi’ in one of Sonu Nigam’s tweet does not address the ‘Azaan’ from Mosque, but it is meant to the use of loudspeakers and amplifiers. The Court however reprimanded the petitioner for making a publicity stunt via the present petition and held that such practices should be deprecated, “To secure the spirit of Preamble and to perform our fundamental duties to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India and to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood the people of India”. [Aash Mohammad v. State of Haryana, CWP 9048 of 2017, decided on 01.05.2017]