Indian High Court tells Twitter: Remove Atheist Republic’s Tweets!

On Friday, October 29th, the Delhi High Court instructed Twitter to take down posts from the Atheist Republic account. The court refers to the "objectionable" tweets depicting the Hindu goddess Maa Kaali in a sensually revealing pose. A senior advocate representing Twitter India, Sidharth Luthra, said they would remove the concerned posts once the court gave an official order.

In July, the Delhi-based lawyer Aditya Singh Deshwal filed a complaint against Atheist Republic and Twitter India for allowing the latter to post blasphemous images of the Hindu Goddess Kali. Deshwal's complaint named the Managing Director of Twitter India, Manish Maheshwari, and the Public Policy Manager, Shagufta Kamran. Armin Navabi, the founder of Atheist Republic, and Susanna McIntyre were also named as defendants.

In the same month, Atheist Republic received a separate but similar complaint filed by Akhilesh Vyas, a lawyer based in Punjab, India. 

Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh called out Twitter's inaction towards the offensive post through a joint statement. They said that Twitter's clients are the public, and Twitter should respect their sentiments. "Why should you do things like this? You should remove this," the statement added.

In his complaint, Deshwal claimed that the offensive tweets "shook the collective conscience of the followers and practitioners of Hinduism." "The said posts have the potential to disturb the tranquility of the society," Deshwal stated in his complaint. Deshwal also pointed out Twitter India's deliberate inaction in moderating Atheist Republic's post. The Delhi High Court has scheduled another round of hearings for the complaint on November 30, 2021.

The original plea submitted to the court stated that the petitioner had already made Twitter’s grievance officer aware of the content and that it was in violation of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and that failing to comply with these rules could result in the loss of the legal immunity that protects Twitter from being held directly liable for the content on it’s platform. He also claimed that the grievance officer responded that the reported content can’t be removed because it does not fall within a category for which it takes action. The plea also sought for Twitter to not only remove the blasphemous content, but to go further and permanently suspend the @AtheistRepublic account.

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