NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Tuesday granted last opportunity to the Centre for replying to a plea seeking directions to it to ensure that social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram remove groups such as 'Bois Locker Room', "for the safety and security of children".
A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon directed that replies be filed by the ministries of home affairs, IT and finance within four weeks.
While Facebook has already filed its reply, the court also asked Google and Twitter to file their responses within four weeks and listed the matter for September 16.
The respondents are directed to file their counter affidavits in four weeks positively. If they fail to file it in four weeks, no further opportunity will be granted to file the replies, the bench said.
The order came on the application moved by former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya "highlighting the unlawful nature of illegal groups" like 'Bois Locker Room'.
The court had earlier in May asked the Centre and social media platforms to respond to the application.
When Advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for Govindacharya, submitted that the application be heard today itself, the court said it was of the view that the main petition itself should be heard and no purpose would be served in hearing the petition and application separately.
"Due to the negativity, fake news and illegal content many young lives are destroyed. Such groups are criminal in nature and do not deserve any protection of free or creative speech," Gupta had earlier argued.
The plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Pathak, further contended that "the incident of 'bois locker room' on Instagram shows one of the vilest forms of social media".
Govindacharya, in his plea, has further claimed that most of such groups are focused on pornography, nudity, graphic violent content, rave parties and other topics which are illegal and against community standards.
The application has also contended that most of the content on such groups are also in violation of terms of agreements of social media companies like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok.
However, they take no steps to remove such groups, it further claimed.
It further said that during the COVID-19 lockdown, the world moved online and invariably, with increased access to the internet, more and more minors have joined social media, and this includes children who are less than 13 years of age.
"It is most humbly submitted that it is our collective responsibility to ensure a safe cyberspace for our children," the application has said.
The application was filed in Govindacharya's main petition seeking removal of fake news and hate speech being circulated on social media and online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google.
The petition has alleged that social media platforms "have become a haven for hate speech" and in the absence of details of designated officers, there is "no clear mechanism to enforce justice."