The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha’s petition against Facebook’s decision to block its pages, the Hindustan Times reported.

Facebook had blocked three pages belonging to the Goa-based group for the violation of its community standards, according to Deccan Herald. The organisation argued that this decision was arbitrary and high-handed.

The group claimed before the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court that Facebook violated its fundamental rights by blocking the pages.

But the social media giant said it had the right to disallow access to accounts that violated its standards. Facebook added that this was contractual dispute and must be taken up with the appropriate forum. The court agreed with the social media company’s submission.

“The dispute regarding blocking or unblocking of the petitioner’s Facebook pages, appears to be governed by the contractual relationship between the petitioner and respondents and normally purely contractual disputes between private parties cannot be adjudicated in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India,” the bench comprising Justices MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar said, according to the Hindustan Times.

The court said that Sanatan Sanstha’s petition was “sketchy and unclear”. “There is no case made out for grant of any declaratory relief in this petition,” the bench said.

It added:

“Even, otherwise, Advocate (Shirish) Punalekar (advocate for Sanatan Sanstha) was unable to point out any provision under the Information Technology Act, based on which the petitioner could insist on maintaining a Facebook page on the platform provided… without agreeing to be bound by the contractual terms that may have been proposed.”   

— Source: The Hindustan Times

The court said it was not its role to direct the government to formulate a mechanism for regulating social media platforms or provide “some active, fast and cheap grievances redressal forum, as suggested by the petitioner”, according to IANS.

The Centre had in February issued a new set of rules to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content, virtually bringing them, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.

Under the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, social media platforms also have to appoint officers to ensure compliance with the rules.

Facebook released its first report under the new rules earlier this month. The social media company said it took action against more than 3 crore content pieces between May 15 and June 15 for violating its standards.