Litigation News

PIL against Twitter for allowing Islamophobic hashtags, trends over Coronavirus: Telangana High Court issues notice

The petitioner states that Twitter trends such as "Corona Jihad" and those in relation to the "Tablighi Jamaat" and the Nizamuddin congregation are "highly unwarranted, illegal and unconstitutional."

Shruti Mahajan

The Telangana High Court on Monday issued notice on a PIL seeking action against social media platform Twitter for allowing Twitter hashtag trends that are Islamophobic in nature in relation to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy has issued notice on the PIL filed by an Advocate Khaja Aijazuddin seeking the removal of Islamophobic posts from Twitter. The petitioner appeared party-in-person before the Court.

The Court will take up the matter for hearing after four weeks.

The petition also alleges the social media site is involved in the "illegal trending" of hashtags that are communal and Islamophobic in nature connecting the spread of COVID-19 with the Muslim community. As such, the petitioner has prayed for a direction for the Centre as well as the State of Telangana and the Director-General of Police of Telangana State to direct Twitter to stop these "illegal trends".

The petitioner says in his plea that Twitter trends such as "Corona Jihad" and those in relation to the "Tablighi Jamaat" as well as the Nizamuddin congregation held in Delhi in March this year are "highly unwarranted, illegal and unconstitutional."

The plea was moved before the High Court in earlier this month after a similar plea was rejected by the Supreme Court in April while granting liberty to the petitioner to approach the High Court for appropriate relief.

In the PIL before the High Court, the petitioner says a direction should be issued to the authorities to register criminal cases under the Indian Penal Code and other relevant laws against Twitter as well as those users who are involved in spreading the hateful and communal messages.

Is it said in the plea that hashtags such as #Islamiccoronavirusjihad, #Coronajihad, #Nizamuddinidiots, #TablighiJamatVirus, etc, are "attaching the religion to the pandemic disease which is contrary to the Guidelines or advisory Dated 18.03.2020 issued by the World Health Organization".
"...It is also contrary to laws prevailing in the territorial jurisdiction of India."
the PIL before the High Court adds.

The petitioner has contended that these incendiary hashtags, which are offensive in nature, still continue on Twitter. The authorities have not taken any action on the same despite the petitioner bringing the issue to their notice, the petitioner has submitted.

Read Petition:

Khaja Aijazuddin vs UOI (Petition).pdf

Read Order:

Khaja Aijazuddin vs UOI (Communal twitter trends) - Order from Telangana HC.pdf
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