Delhi HC Pulls Up Twitter For Delay In Appointing Grievance Officer

Twitter appointed an American citizen living in the US to deal with grievances arising in India

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted Twitter India time till July 8 to respond on how long it would take them to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) in accordance with the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021).

"Come up with a clear response, otherwise you will be in trouble," Justice Rekha Palli warned Twitter.

Justice Palli pulled up the microblogging platform for giving the "wrong impression" when it failed to tell the court that it had appointed an interim grievance officer, as opposed to a resident grievance officer. Even that official has resigned, Justice Palli noted.

"After 21 June, till July 6, the least you could have done was appoint another person. How long does your process take? If Twitter thinks it can take as long it wants in our country, I will not allow that," Justice Palli told Twitter's counsel senior advocate Sajjan Poovayya.

The high court was hearing a plea filed by Amit Acharaya who sought action against Twitter users for uploading a video from Ghaziabad which showed a Muslim man being assaulted. The plea also sought the appointment of an RGO in accordance with the Centre's new rules.

IT Rules 2021 Law of the Land, Twitter must comply: Centre to HC

The Indian government is at loggerheads with Twitter over non-compliance of its rules.

According to the new rules, Twitter is required to, but failed to, appoint:

a. Chief Compliance Officer

b. Resident Grievance Officer

c. Nodal Contact Person

d. A physical contact address in India

Twitter had appointed an interim grievance officer – Dharmendra Chatur, who subsequently quit. Jeremy Kessel, who lives in the United States of America, has been appointed to deal with grievances arising in India.

In its affidavit, the Centre told the high court that Twitter would lose its Safe Harbour Immunity if it did not immediately adhere to the "law of the land."

"Any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the provisions of the IT Rules 2021 thereby leading to (Twitter Inc) losing its immunity conferred under Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2001," the reply read. This means Twitter will be liable if any third party (users) misuse the infrastructure, in this case, the platform.

The affidavit concluded by stating that Twitter will not be protected under the safe harbour protections under the Information Technology Act if it continues to be in non-compliance with the IT Rules, 2021.

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