The Delhi High Court on Monday said that microblogging platform Twitter has to comply with the new Information Technology rules if they have not been stayed, Live Law reported.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a lawyer, who claimed that Twitter had failed to appoint a resident grievance redressal officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer as mandated by the Centre’s new rules.

The petitioner, Amit Acharya, alleged that he found certain “defamatory and false” tweets while scrolling through the platform on May 26, but when he tried to file a complaint, he could not find the resident grievance redressal officer’s details on Twitter’s page.

Senior advocate Sajan Poovaya, appearing for Twitter, told the Delhi High Court that the social media platform had appointed a grievance redressal officer on May 28.

Justice Rekha Palli issued a notice to Twitter, asking it to respond to the petition in three weeks. “I am inclined to issue notice, if the rules are there, as long as they are not stayed...they have to follow it,” she said, according to Bar and Bench. “It is very simple, if the rules are there, there is no choice, you have to [comply with it].”

Twitter’s lawyer said: “Absolutely, there is no question. Without a stay I have to comply. The Resident Grievance Officer has now been appointed and that appointment happened by a letter of 28th of May. I will place it on affidavit.”

The matter will now be heard on July 6.

Last week, Twitter had said it was concerned about the “potential threat” to freedom of expression as India’s new social media rules came into effect. The company had added that it will “strive to comply with applicable law” in India, but be strictly guided by the principals of transparency.

Hitting back at Twitter, the Centre had said that the social media platform needed to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land.

New IT rules

A sweeping set of rules were issued on February 25 to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content. The new rules virtually bring these platforms, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.

Among other things, the “Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021” regulations mandated that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Signal and Facebook will now have to give details about the origin of a tweet or a message on being asked by either a court or a government authority. The regulation also requires social media companies to set up a three-tier grievance redressal framework.

The firms were given a three-week deadline to comply with the rules. Last Wednesday, the Centre wrote to major social media platform, asking them for the status of their compliance to the rules “as soon as possible”.

Besides Twitter, WhatsApp has also been critical of the new rules. On Tuesday, the messaging platform moved the Delhi High Court challenging a provision of the rules, saying it was unconstitutional and against people’s fundamental right to privacy. The provision mandates the company to identify the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google said they will ensure compliance with the rules. Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said at a virtual conference with reporters on Wednesday that free and open internet was “foundational”.