The popular social media app Facebook on Monday said to Bombay High Court that it cannot favor of self-censorship on its website, in response to a plea to prevent any political advertisement, messages or videos on social media.
The division bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Naresh Patil was hearing an appeal which is documented by Sagar Suryavanshi, lawyer (Pune Court), looking for guidelines to the Election Commission of India to prevent any kind of messages, advertisements, or political videos 48 hours before Election Day. The appeal also demands instruction of several social media sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google, throughout the no-campaign duration before voting begins.
On preceding hearing, adv. Pradeep Rajgopal for the Election Commission of India (ECI) has said the high court that a commission agreed by the ECI recommended modifications to Section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, which forbids any public assemblies and processions linking with the election before 48 hours of the Election Day. The committee advised authorizing ECI to issue a suitable way to private units.
Senior Advocate Darius Khambata reported that, “we could not carry out self-censorship control individually. If there is a direction by the courts or ECI (Election Commission by India), then we will execute It.”, he said.
Khambata also mentioned the practical problems in regulating political messages or advertisements. “Elections in India are not held for all the states, so it will difficult to maintain the prohibition on political advertisements before 48-hour of Election Day.
“There are certain rules in US and UK where a person have to pay for political message or advertisements has to present identity proof. The same system should be applicable in India so that the authentication of the individual who is paying for such political advertisements is recognized. Currently, in India anyone from China or Pakistan can post the political messages or advertisements such as ‘cow slaughter’ or ‘love jihad’ to make troubles during the period of elections.