NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain a petition seeking direction to stop illegal trending of various hashtags on Twitter, attaching religion to the COVID-19 pandemic and said it was akin to asking MTNL to stop people talking wrong things on phone.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said: “How can the court stop this? You are saying people are saying wrong things on Twitter.”
A petition was filed by advocate Khaja Aijazuddin seeking directions from the apex court to government to direct Twitter to stop the illegal trending of hashtags on the social network under the name #Islamiccoronavirusjihad, #Coronajihad, #Tablighi jamat, #Nizamuddinidiots, #TablighiJamatVirus.
The petitioner argued that these messages were attaching the religion to pandemic disease, and this was unwarranted, illegal and unconstitutional.
The bench replied that it is like people are saying the wrong thing on the phone, therefore ask MTNL to stop them. The court observed that we can’t issue such pre-emptive directions.
The petitioner argued that such messages are also contrary to the guidelines or advisory issued on March 18 by the World Health Organization (WHO), which says religion cannot be attached with the pandemic. “And also it amounts to contrary to the laws prevailing in the territorial Jurisdiction of India i.e. invocation of Penal Laws for want of manifestly insulting the religion by hurting the feelings of the religion and also the trending may disturb the communal harmony of the Country”, said the petition.
The petitioner argued that the trending on Twitter attacking a particular community by attaching the disease is totally contrary to Indian Laws. The top court asked the petitioner to move the High Court concerned on this matter.