The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court seeking action against Twitter's refusal to remove a tweet posted by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in 2020, which allegedly "threatened and tortured a minor girl" (Mohammed Zubair v. State of GNCT & Ors).
In its affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court, NCPCR stated, that the Commission (NCPCR) in the discharge of its statutory obligation, has been following up with Twitter Inc. with regard to the cognizance taken by it under Section 13(1)G) of the CPCR Act, 2005 against a complaint received regarding online threats and repeated incident of stalking of a minor girl on Twitter by the Petitioner.
The Commission also mentioned that it had been following up with the Delhi Police to seek some action on the post published by Zubair, which allegedly contained the picture of the minor girl, which is still available on Twitter.
It was contended that the same was violative of Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, Section 28A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and various provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Earlier this year, the Commission had also written to Twitter Inc requesting an update on the action taken with regard to the post. While the Delhi Police had responded to NCPCR's request in a timely manner, Twitter Inc had been stalling the matter for some time now, and insisted on a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT), the affidavit stated.
It is noted by the Ld. the court therein that Twitter Inc. is intentionally denying to provide the requisite information to a public servant which they are legally bound to provide and shielding the suspects/alleged person and hampering the investigation of the case by asking for MLAT.
Twitter had, by way of its reply dated 25.08.2020, informed the Commission that two tweets referred to it; specifically, two comments on the post (the links appear below), were no longer available for access on the Twitter platform. Your suggestion that this reported content is still available leaves us somewhat perplexed. We have since checked and we wish to re-confirm that the said content is not available (and screenshots are enclosed).
NCPCR thus prayed for a direction to implead Twitter Inc as a party to the present proceeding, as well as a direction to the social media giant to remove the post from its platform in order to protect the identity of the girl child.
In August 2020, Zubair had posted a tweet in reply to an abusive message from a user called Jagdish Singh, wherein he posted Singh’s display picture, featuring a little girl who was his granddaughter while blurring her face
A month later, two First Information Reports (FIRs) were lodged against Zubair in Delhi and Raipur under the POCSO Act for allegedly "threatening and torturing" a minor girl on Twitter.
The police action came pursuant to a complaint filed by Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson of the NCPCR, who said that the body had acted on the complaint of an organization called Forum for Indigenous Rights - North-East India.
Following this, NCPCR had written to the Deputy Commissioner of the Delhi Police along with the nodal cyber cell officer seeking action against Zubair for "threatening and stalking the minor girl on Twitter."
The FIR alleged that two other Twitter accounts with the usernames 'de_real_mask' and 'syedsarwar20' were also responsible since they had commented on the post. In addition to this, 10 days' time was given to Twitter India to provide NCPCR with the relevant information about these Twitter accounts.