The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea filed by Twitter challenging the government orders to block certain tweets and accounts from the social media platform, Live Law reported.

On July 8, Twitter had told the court that it had been asked by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to take down 175 tweets and more than 1,400 accounts between February 2021 to February 2022.

In its plea, the microblogging platform has challenged the removal of 39 of these links.

The notices and blocking orders were sent to Twitter under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The provision allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Twitter, told the court that the government cited no reason in the blocking orders that it sent.

“We are answerable to the account holders [as to] why their accounts are blocked,” Rohatgi submitted, according to Live Law. “If this continues, our whole business will close.”

Meanwhile, the counsel representing the government urged the court to postpone the matter saying that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was to appear for the hearing, is infected with the coronavirus disease.

The bench agreed to the request and said it will hear the matter on August 25.

Justice Krishna S Dixit also orally said that he will grant the Centre’s request to have in-camera proceedings, Bar and Bench reported. This means that the hearing will be held privately and the proceedings will not be available for the public.

Dixit also directed Twitter to share all related documents in a sealed cover with the government’s counsel.

In its plea before the court, Twitter had said that increasingly, the ministry had been ordering it to block entire accounts without informing it about the specific tweets that necessitated such action. “Several of the URLs contain political and journalistic content,” the petition by Twitter said.

“Blocking of such information is a gross violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizen-users of the platform.”

On multiple occasions in the past, the central government has asked Twitter to take down posts and accounts, including those that are critical of its actions.

In February 2021, the government asked Twitter to remove hundreds of accounts that criticised the Centre over its handling of the large-scale farmer protests which started in November 2020. The social media platform initially refused, but eventually relented after its local employees were threatened with prison time.

In April last year, the Centre had asked Twitter to pull down accounts that criticised the government’s handling of Covid-19 during the second wave when lakhs of people died.

The Centre has also repeatedly criticised Twitter for not fully complying with the new Information Technology rules that came into force in May last year.

On July 5, 2021, the government filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court arguing that Twitter had lost the immunity from legal action provided to online platforms because it had failed to comply with portions of the IT rules.