Tamil Nadu BJP Spokesperson SG Suryah moves Delhi High Court against restriction of access to Facebook account

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu Spokesperson SG Suryah has moved the Delhi High Court challenging the decisions of Meta (formerly Facebook) to restrict access and demonetise his account without affording him an opportunity of being heard [SG Suryah v Union of India & ors].

The petition was listed today before Justice Kameswar Rao, who posted the matter for hearing on February 9.

In a nutshell

– Suryah claimed that two of his videos were removed from Facebook in December 2021 for violating community standards;

– Thereafter, access to his page was restricted for a month;

– In January, his Facebook page was demonetised;

– He has moved the Delhi High Court seeking an order to reinstate his Facebook with the same reach he had in November 2021.

Suryah claimed that the world-famous micro-blogging website now known as Meta had removed two of his videos from the platform citing violation of its Community Standards. As a result, access to his Facebook page was restricted for a month.

The said YouTube videos pertained to content against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) made by a Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi awardee, Jayakanthan. He alleged that Meta marked the videos as “pro-LTTE” and proceeded to restrict access to his account and subsequently demonetise his page.

The Respondent No.2 misinterpreted the contents of aforesaid two posts, which were posted in tamil language and took a wrongful decision by restricting the Petitioner’s reach to the public at large and that too without even affording any opportunity of hearing to the Petitioner” the petition stated.

It is his argument that as per Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Union of India heavily regulated the respondent platform. He claimed that Meta performs a public function and also enjoys a virtual duopoly when it comes to dissemination of information, at the behest of the Central government.

Further, the plea stated that there is no provision under which content can be edited or modified before transmission by an intermediary like Meta.

“There is no sanction for this action under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the latest the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 made thereunder.” he states in his plea

Given the fact that he was not given an opportunity of being heard before the actions were taken, Suryah claimed that Meta is in violation of various provisions of the Constitution of India including Articles 14, 19 and 21.

In view of the above, he sought directions to Meta/Facebook to reinstate his account and to quash the decision to demonetize it. He also sought reinstatement of his account in terms of the reach it had in November 2021.