HC says can’t intervene with govt choice on banning use of social media by defence officers

New Delhi, August 5

If the federal government has concluded that allowing using sure social networking web sites, together with Facebook and Instagram, by its defence personnel is enabling enemy international locations acquire an edge, the courts could be loath to intervene with the choice, the Delhi High Court mentioned on Wednesday.

It mentioned warfare in as we speak’s world was not confined to “accession of territory” however extends to affecting the economic system and “inciting civil unrest” by enemy nations.

The excessive courtroom’s order got here whereas dismissing a senior Army officer’s plea difficult the Indian Army’s latest coverage banning armed forces personnel from utilizing 89 social networking platforms.

Also learn: Delhi HC dismisses senior officer’s plea towards Army ban on utilizing social media platforms

A bench of justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon, whereas announcing the order, mentioned: “Sorry we are dismissing. Thank you.”

The excessive courtroom, whereas contemplating the controversy for the stage of admission solely, mentioned different technique of communication had been nonetheless out there to the petitioner officer and the ban was with respect to sure social networking web sites solely.

It dismissed the petition of Lieutenant Colonel PK Choudhary searching for a route to the Director-General of Military Intelligence to withdraw its June 6 coverage by which all Indian Army personnel had been ordered to delete their accounts from Facebook, Instagram and 87 different purposes.

“We may also notice that warfare and inter-country rivalries and animosities today are not confined to the accession of territory and destruction of installations and infrastructure of enemy countries but also extend to influencing and affecting the economies and political stability of enemy country including by inciting civil unrest and disturbance and influencing the political will of the citizens of the enemy country,” the Bench mentioned.

“In such a scenario, if the government, after complete assessment, has concluded that permitting the use of certain social networking websites by personnel of its defence forces is enabling the enemy countries to gain an edge, the courts would be loath to interfere. In the circumstances, no case for interference is made out. Dismissed,” the Bench added.

The courtroom mentioned on perusal of the coverage if it had discovered it to be affected by the vice of non-application of thoughts of being not primarily based on any materials on a report or being with out correct deliberations, it could have actually proceeded to reply the authorized difficulty raised within the petition on the ban.

“However, once we are satisfied on the aforesaid parameters and find other means of communication to be still available to the petitioner and the ban being with respect to certain social networking websites only and more so, once we have found the petitioner himself to have been posting tweets which according to the ASG are in violation of the policy earlier in force qua use of social media, we do not deem it apposite to at the instance of the petitioner to go into the questions urged. Rather, we do not appreciate the pleadings of the petitioner as a senior officer in the Army, of army personnel being treated as slaves and the government not trusting its army,” the bench mentioned.

The courtroom mentioned it was evident from the data produced that the sooner advisories and directives qua conduct and behaviours of military personnel on social networking websites haven’t been abided by some.

“The material produced shows certain army personnel to be unsuspectingly answering all kinds of questions relating to their postings and whereabouts and postings and whereabouts of others merely on being told by a person befriended on social networking sites, of a defence background and which information when collated from a number of sources can easily convey a full picture to an expert espionage eye,” it famous.

The bench mentioned even when there was any error within the authorities issuing this coverage and route, with out complying with the process prescribed within the Army Act, contemplating that the problem has a component of urgency and considerations the protection and safety of the whole nation, “we do not deem it necessary to, for the grievance of the petitioner only, render an adjudication on the questions urged and which may require us to refer to the documents and materials shown to us in confidence”.

The courtroom mentioned apart from stating that Facebook and Twitter are extra handy, no reply was forthcoming as to why the filial and different social wants of Choudhary can’t be fulfilled by different technique of communication cited by Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, which remains to be out there.

The Centre, represented by standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, had earlier instructed the courtroom that the coverage choice was taken because it was discovered that Facebook was a bug and it was infiltrating as cyber warfare and there have been so many cases of personnel being focused.

Choudhary, who’s at present posted in Jammu and Kashmir, mentioned that he’s an energetic person of Facebook, makes use of the platform to attach along with his family and friends as most of them are settled overseas, together with his elder daughter.

The officer had sought a route to the Ministry of Defence to withdraw the June 6 coverage to make sure that the elemental rights of armed forces personnel aren’t abrogated amended or modified by arbitrary government motion which isn’t backed by the mandate of regulation, offends the provisions of the Army Act and Rules made thereunder and is unconstitutional.

The petition had alleged that the coverage which bans social media platforms is illegitimate, arbitrary, disproportionate and violates the elemental rights of troopers. PTI

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