A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, which is hearing both matters, allowed for requests made by counsels appearing for the Union of India and CCI seeking for a week’s accommodation in both the cases, and adjourned the hearings to the later date.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of WhatsApp, had told the court on July 9 that “If Parliament allows data sharing, then the CCI cannot say anything about the practice. If Parliament doesn’t allow me to do it, I have two choices — either I close shop in India, or I don’t do it.”
In its challenge to the government’s demand of significant social media intermediaries to be able to trace the origin of particular messages sent on their services, WhatsApp has told the court that doing so would put professionals, including journalists investigating issues that may be unpopular, at risk, apart from civil and political activists, and attorneys.
WhatsApp is the only US-based big tech company to have challenged the government’s revised IT Rules so far.
While Google too has approached the Delhi High Court over a matter related to the IT Rules, in its case Google is challenging a single judge order that has applied the IT Rules on its search engine, which the company has argued cannot be identified as a “significant social media intermediary” and therefore the rules do not apply to it.
Global social networking platforms, especially Twitter which failed to comply with the IT Rules that came into effect on May 26, have recently found themselves in a spate of litigation in India, as the government has tightened rules for these firms to setup more formal dispute redressal mechanisms for their users in India.
The new IT Rules have mandated the appointment of three key officers – Chief Compliance Officer, Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person – by all social media intermediaries that have over 5 million active users in the country.