Twitter on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it had locked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s account for sharing a photo revealing the identity of the family of a nine-year-old Dalit girl, whose alleged rape, murder and forcible cremation in Delhi has sparked massive protests, Bar and Bench reported.
Gandhi had shared the photo after meeting the child’s family in Delhi Cantonment’s Purana Nangal village on August 4.
“The tweet has already been deleted since it was in violation of our site’s policy,” Twitter’s lawyer Sajan Poovayya told the Delhi High Court. “Rahul Gandhi’s account has also been locked since.”
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court heard a petition filed by activist Makarand Suresh Mhadlekar, who sought the registration of a first information report against Gandhi, India Today reported.
He argued that Gandhi’s tweet violated Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 23(2) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences. These sections forbid the disclosure of the identity of a minor complainant.
The petitioner’s lawyer Gautam Jha demanded that the Twitter file an affidavit stating what action it took in the matter, Live Law reported.
Chief Justice DN Patel rebuked him. “Why are you saying this?” he asked. “Why will they [Twitter] lie? There is no reason to disbelieve them. They have acted so responsibly.”
Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh praised Twitter for taking quick action in the matter. “That’s very responsible,” they said, according to Live Law. “You have been prompt.”
Last week, Gandhi had tweeted a photo showing him and the child’s parents having a conversation inside a car. “Parents’ tears are saying only one thing – their daughter, the daughter of this country, deserves justice,” he had tweeted along with the photo.
On August 4, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had asked Twitter India’s resident grievance officer to remove the photo as it revealed the identity of the nine-year-old girl.
“Revealing the identity of the girl by tweeting a photo of her parents [is] in violation of the POCSO [Protection of Children from Sexual Offences] Act,” Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson of the child rights body, said.
On August 7, the Congress tweeted to say that Gandhi’s account was “temporarily suspended”. Later, it replied to the same tweet, saying that the handle was “temporarily locked”.
The party accused the Narendra Modi-led government of intimidating Twitter, instead of ensuring justice to the Dalit girl’s family. “Based on a complaint by the BJP, the Twitter account of Rahul Gandhi has been locked,” party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged.
A Twitter spokesperson told NDTV that Gandhi’s account was not suspended as claimed by the Congress earlier and that due process was being followed to restore it. The account is removed from global view once it is suspended, the spokesperson added.
According to Twitter, an account is locked if it violates rules or appears to be compromised. “We may ask you to complete certain actions before we start the countdown on your limited state,” the company says. “These actions may include verifying your email address, adding a phone number to your account, or deleting Tweets that are in violation of our rules.”