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Indian Army Officer moves Delhi HC against direction to delete accounts from Facebook, Instagram; Delhi HC refuses to pass interim order

The Court said that the matter has the "potential of concerning the safety and security of the country."

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant interim relief to an Indian Army Officer who had filed a petition challenging the order directing Indian Army personnel to delete accounts from social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram (Lt Col PK Choudhary v. Union of India).

A Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon opined,

"Till we have found reason to entertain the petition and have entertained the petition, the question of granting any such interim relief does not arise especially when the matter has the potential of concerning the safety and security of the country."
Delhi High Court

The petitioner sought the Court's indulgence on the ground that the last date by which all personnel were asked to delete social media account was July 15.

The Court, however, found no reason to grant the interim relief and asked the Petitioner to either abide by the mandate or put in his papers.

The Court adjourned hearing in the matter with a direction to the Central Government to file the policy document in a sealed cover, along with the reasons for taking the decision, if required, separately.

In his petition before the Court, the Petitioner has submitted that he is an active user of Facebook and that he uses the platform to connect with his friends and family even when he is posted in remote locations.

The Petitioner has contended that the ban on the use of social networking platforms violates his Fundamental Rights, including the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to privacy.

Since the policy is not a law passed by virtue of Article 33 of the Constitution, the provisions under it cannot modify or amend the fundamental rights of soldiers, it is said.

Apart from a direction to the authorities to withdraw the ban, a declaration is also sought to the effect that the Director-General of Military Intelligence is not empowered under the Constitution or under any other law to modify, amend or abrogate the fundamental rights of the armed forces.

The Petitioner was represented by Advocate Shivank Pratap Singh.

ASG Chetan Sharma with Standing Counsel Ajay Digpaul appeared for Centre.

The matter will be heard next on July 21.

Read the Order:

Lt Col PK Choudhary vs UOI.pdf
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