Abide by military’s mandate, delete your FB account: HC to Lt Col

New Delhi, July 14

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined to grant any interim reduction to a senior military officer, who has challenged the Indian Army’s latest coverage banning armed forces personnel from utilizing social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram, saying he has to both abide by the mandate of the organisation or put in his papers.

The excessive court docket mentioned he has a option to make and requested him to delete his FB account because the coverage to ban using social networking platforms for military personnel was taken conserving in view the safety of the nation.

It mentioned he can create a brand new social media account later.

A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon mentioned that when it has not even discovered a motive but to entertain the plea, “the query of granting any interim reduction doesn’t come up.

“Especially when the matter has the potential of concerning the safety and security of the country,” the bench mentioned.

Lieutenant Colonel P Okay Choudhary contended that when deleted all the information, contacts and mates in his FB account can be “irretrievably lost” and the loss can be “irreversible”.

“No. No. Sorry. You please delete it. You can always create a new one. It cannot work like this. You are part of an organisation. You have to abide by its mandate,” the bench mentioned.

It additional mentioned, “If you are so dear to FB, then put in your papers. See you have to make a choice, what do you want to do. You have other choices which are also irreversible.”

The military officer had sought an interim reduction that he be allowed to retain his Facebook (FB) account in deactivated kind until the subsequent date of listening to when the court docket will resolve whether or not to entertain his petition after going by means of the Army’s coverage below problem.

According to the brand new June 6 coverage, all Indian Army personnel have been ordered to delete their accounts from Facebook and Instagram and 87 different purposes. 

The counsel for the military officer mentioned the one selection he has is whether or not to face departmental motion for not deleting the account.

The officer’s lawyer repeatedly urged the bench to permit him to retain the account in deactivated kind, saying forcing him to delete it and the information therein quantities to violation of his proper to privateness.

The Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, informed the court docket that the coverage choice was taken as “we found that Facebook was a bug. It was infiltrating as a cyber warfare and there were so many instances of personnel being targeted”.

Sharma additionally mentioned the petitioner’s grievance was that he wants FB to speak along with his household within the US, when there have been different modes of communication like WhatsApp, Twitter and Skype which had been out there to him.

After listening to him for a while, the bench mentioned it finds no floor to grant the interim reduction.

It requested the ASG to file the coverage doc in a sealed cowl for perusal by the bench and mentioned the explanations for taking the choice be additionally filed.

With the course, the court docket listed the matter for listening to on July 21.

The petition has sought a course to the Director General of Military Intelligence to withdraw its June 6 coverage to the extent that it orders all of the members of the Indian Army to delete their accounts from Facebook and Instagram and 87 different purposes. 

Lt Col P Okay Choudhary, who’s at present posted in Jammu and Kashmir, mentioned within the plea that he’s an energetic person of Facebook and 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.

In the petition, the officer has sought a course to the Ministry of Defence to withdraw the June 6 coverage to make sure that the basic rights of armed forces personnel should not abrogated amended or modified by arbitrary govt motion which isn’t backed by the mandate of legislation, offends the provisions of the Army Act and Rules made thereunder and is unconstitutional.

The petition has alleged that the coverage which bans social media platforms is unlawful, arbitrary, disproportionate, violates the basic rights of troopers together with however not restricted to the liberty of speech and expression, the fitting to life and the fitting to privateness.     

It has mentioned the authorities have cited safety issues and threat of knowledge breach as the premise of imposing the restrictions contained within the coverage relating to utilization of social media platforms however the act of banning it’s a clear violation of Article 14 (Equality earlier than legislation) of the Constitution. 

The plea additionally seeks a declaration that the Director General of Military Intelligence is just not empowered below the Constitution or below some other legislation to switch, amend or abrogate the basic rights of the petitioner and different members of the armed forces.

Besides, the Centre and Director General of Military Intelligence, the petition has additionally made Chief of the Army Staff, who’s the skilled head, commander and the highest-ranking army officer of the Indian Army, occasion to the petition. — PTI

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