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Karnataka HC dismisses Twitter’s challenge against Centre’s order to block tweets

The Karnataka High Court on Friday dismissed a petition moved by Twitter Inc. against the government’s order to take down several Twitter accounts under the IT Rules.

The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the microblogging site. The court further refused to stay the order, saying that “it’s convinced that the central government has the power to block tweets as well as accounts.” The order was reserved in April.

Twitter approached the high Court in July last year after the centre issued an order to block 39 Twitter accounts without any notice. It had claimed that the orders were in violation of the freedom of speech of account holders, a fundamental right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. It further accused the orders of being excessive and disproportionate.

Under the Information Technology Act, The centre or its authorised officers can seek to block access to information in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the defence of India, the security of the state, friendly relationships with foreign states, public order, or preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence.

However, the centre had questioned the locus of Twitter’s challenge to the orders as a foreign company. As per the Constitution of India, only a citizen has the right to challenge fundamental rights to freedom, whereas Twitter is neither a natural person nor a company incorporated in India. Bloomberg

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