Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has rejected Twitter’s petition challenging the blocking orders issued by the Union government under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The court has imposed a fine of ₹50 lakhs on Twitter for its failure to comply with the government’s blocking orders and for not providing any reason for the delay. The court has directed Twitter to pay the imposed fine to the Karnataka Legal Services Authority within 45 days. If there is any delay in payment, a fine of ₹5,000 per day will be imposed on the company.
Justice Krishna S. Dixit, a single judge on the bench, noted that Twitter did not comply with the government’s blocking orders despite being served notices. He highlighted that non-compliance with such orders carries a punishment of up to seven years of imprisonment and an unlimited fine, which did not deter Twitter. The company was represented by Senior Advocates Ashok Haranahalli, Arvind Datar, and Advocate Manu Kulkarni, while Additional Solicitor General of India R Sankaranarayanan represented the Central government.
The judge emphasised that Twitter had delayed compliance for a year before approaching the court. He stated, “You are not a farmer but a billion-dollar company.” The judge framed eight issues, ranging from locus standi to the reasons behind the blocking orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY).
The Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, reiterated that all social media platforms must comply with the law of the land following the High Court’s dismissal of Twitter’s plea.
Earlier this month, in response to former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s claims that the Indian government threatened to shut down the platform in the country, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar criticised Dorsey for spreading “fiction.” Chandrasekhar dismissed Dorsey’s statement that the government conducted raids on Twitter employees’ homes, describing it as an attempt to cover up Twitter’s questionable history.
Chandrasekhar took to Twitter and called Dorsey’s claim an “outright lie.” He emphasised that Twitter, under Dorsey’s leadership, repeatedly violated Indian laws, and his statement aimed to brush aside those violations. The Minister clarified that Twitter had been non-compliant with Indian laws from 2020 to 2022 and only achieved compliance in June 2022.
Chandrasekhar further emphasised that all social media intermediaries operating in India must adhere to laws to ensure a safe, trusted, and accountable internet environment.