Social media platforms told the Bombay High Court on Monday that if the Central government or the HC issued an order, they would block access to a supporter of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). The AIMIM supporter posted a video which allegedly could create communal hatred between Hindus and Muslims, using the novel coronavirus as a garb.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M.J. Jamdar was hearing a criminal petition field by one Imran Khan, through advocate Vivek Shukla. Mr. Khan wanted the court to direct authorities to delete a video, and also permanently block AIMIM supporter Abu Faizal from social media platforms such as YouTube, Google, and Facebook.

Mr. Khan contended in the plea that Mr. Faizal, in the said video, had claimed that media was being used to target Muslims and defame Islam under the garb of COVID-19. He said the video was uploaded on Mr. Faizal’s social media accounts and claimed that no action was taken by the police despite a complaint being filed.

The petition said that the video alleged that a vicious campaign led by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was under way to control the Muslim population in the country. Mr. Khan also alleged that Mr. Faizal was seen provoking and encouraging Muslims to assault doctors of other religions.

Senior counsel Darius Khambata representing Facebook and advocate Naresh Thacker appearing for YouTube told the court that the video uploaded by Mr. Faizal had been deleted.

To this, Mr. Shukla said Mr. Faizal had uploaded several videos on social media even after the earlier clips were deleted.

Mr. Khambata submitted that Facebook could block access of the site to Mr. Faizal if the Central government passed an order as per the procedure laid down under the Information Technology (IT) Act or if the HC ordered it to do so.

Mr. Thacker said the URLs of the earlier videos uploaded by Mr. Faizal had been deleted. The Bench asked if Mr. Shukla approached the nodal officer appointed by the government under Section 69 A (power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource) of the IT Act.

The court said, “The IT Act has laid down a procedure by which any person can approach the nodal officer if he or she has a complaint against any content posted on the internet. Why should the court interfere and pass orders?”

The Bench has reserved its judgement in the plea. On May 24, the HC had directed all social media platforms to block the hate speech video made by Mr. Faizal.

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