The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, issued notices to Twitter Inc, Attorney General for India KK Venugopal and Prashant Bhushan in the suo motu contempt case initiated against Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Twitter, Bar & Bench reported.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari was hearing the case filed against Bhushan and Twitter, over a tweet filed by the former questioning the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde riding a bike in Nagpur.
During the hearings, the court noted that the correct party in the case was Twitter Inc of California and not Twitter India.
Earlier this month, Mahek Maheshwari, an advocate based in Guna, Madhya Pradesh, filed a petition against Bhushan and Twitter India seeking contempt action against both. A week later, on July 9, the apex court registered a suo moto contempt case against Bhushan.
The contentious tweet by Bhushan, dated June 29, read, “CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!”
On June 27, Bhushan tweeted, “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”
“The remarks are too inhuman forgetting that how much Hon’ble CJI and the other justices are stretching themselves to ensure justice to the citizens that they allow hearing by Video Conferencing Mode and they are not even enjoying vacations properly,” Maheshwari’s petition said.
In 2019, Twitter was alleged to have discriminated against right-wing opinions by a group closely affiliated with the BJP. This was followed up with a parliamentary committee summoning Twitter CEO for a hearing in February. One hearing turned into two hearings inviting Facebook and WhatsApp as well to discuss issues such as social media bias, citizen rights, and data privacy.
Just this month, India’s ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Vinit Goenka alleged that Twitter was promoting terrorism through a few trending hashtags and by earning ad revenue from alleged terrorist organisations. This was not the first time that social media platforms’ liability and user traceability has been questioned in India. Many other political and internet activist groups have said that Twitter and other platforms should be held responsible for their content just like media companies.