New Delhi, Sep 13, 2019 –
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to explain if it is contemplating any move to link social media accounts with Aadhaar.
A bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta asked the Centre to inform it of this by September 24, the next date fixed for the hearing, as it took up a plea by Facebook seeking transfer of various petitions from different high courts to the top court.
In Friday’s hearing, the bench said that it will not hear merits related to the issue but focus on the question of transfer of various petitions pending in different high courts.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre, said the government has no objection to transfer of the cases from high courts to the top court.
Facebook has said that the transfer of cases would serve the interests of justice by avoiding the possibility of conflicting decisions from the high courts.
It told the apex court that two petitions had been filed in the Madras High Court and one each in the Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts, and sought a stay on all these proceedings.
The top court, in the last hearing, has not stayed proceedings in the high courts but restrained them from passing any final order.
All the pleas in the three high courts have sought a declaration that Aadhaar or any other government-authorised identity proof should be made mandatory to authenticate social media accounts.
“All the common cases seek similar relief and involve the similar question of law,” Facebook said in its plea, adding that any finding on the common questions would have far reaching implications for the general public and the parties.
It said that it would suffer irreparable loss if the proceedings were not stayed at this stage, as conflicting decisions on the prayer seeking to link Aadhaar with social media platforms would adversely impact the its platform used throughout India.
The plea said that the common questions involve the interpretation of important Central statutes including the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 which would directly impact the central and state governments.
The Madras High Court had expanded the scope of the case to consider the issue of online abuse and fake news being circulated through social media and sought to define the liabilities of intermediaries in cases of fake news and cyber abuse. (Agency)