On 22 June, A notice was issued by the Telangana High Court on a PIL seeking action against social media platform Twitter for allowing Twitter Islamophobic hashtag trending in nature in relation to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The notice was issued by the Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddyon seeking the removal of Islamophobic hashtag posts from Twitter in the PIL filed by an Advocate KhajaAijazuddin.
Allegations were made by the Petitioner that 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. A prayer has been written 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” as a remedy.
Twitter trends such as “Corona Jihad” and those in relation to the “TablighiJamaat” as well as the Nizamuddin congregation held in Delhi in March this year are “highly unwarranted, illegal and unconstitutional“, said the Petitioner in his plea.
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Earlier this month, the plea was moved before the High Court and a similar plea was rejected by the Supreme Court in April while granting liberty to approach the High Court for appropriate relief to the petitioner.
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, the petitioner remarked.
The PIL contended in case of Islamophobic hashtags:
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 petitioner has contended that these incendiary Islamophobic hashtags which are offensive in nature still continue on Twitter and the authorities have not taken any action on the same despite the petitioner bringing the issue to their notice.
The matter would be heard after four weeks in the Court.
Read the petition and order here: