New Delhi [India], Aug 5 (ANI): Observing that warfare and inter-country rivalries has extend to influencing economies, political stability and inciting civil unrest of enemy country, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by an Army officer challenging the decision to bar the personnel of security forces from using social media platforms.
A division bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon dismissed Lieutenant Colonel PK Choudhary's petition after hearing the matter through in-camera proceedings on the request of the Central government counsel, who stressed for the same citing sensitive issues cannot be disclosed to the public.
"We may also notice that warfare and inter-country rivalries and animosities today are not confined to accession of territory and destruction of installations and infrastructure of enemy countries but also extend to influencing and affecting the economies and political stability of enemy country including by inciting civil unrest and disturbance and influencing the political will of the citizens of the enemy country," the bench said.
"In such a scenario, if the government, after complete assessment, has concluded that permitting use of certain social networking websites by personnel of its defence forces is enabling the enemy countries to gain an edge, the courts would be loath to interfere," it added.
The bench, while passing the order also said that it does not appreciate the pleadings of the petitioner as a senior officer in the army about its personnel being treated as slaves and the government not trusting its army.
The High Court was hearing a petition, filed through advocates Shivank Pratap Singh and Sanandika Pratap Singh, challenging the Central government's decision to bar personnel of the security forces from using social media platforms.
The petition urged the High Court to issue directions to the Director-General of Military Intelligence (DGMS) to withdraw its policy dated August 6, 2020.
Choudhary sought directions to the respondent authorities to withdraw its policy to delete the accounts of its personnel from social networking platforms.
Currently, the petitioner is serving in the Indian Army and is posted in Jammu and Kashmir. He claimed to be an active user of Facebook and uses the platform inter alia to connect with his friends and family.
The petitioner said that he finds social media platforms, particularly Facebook as an important tool to connect with his family, adding that through Facebook, he maintains his social relationships with friends, family and other acquaintances in the absence of opportunities to physically interact with them.
"The petitioner has used his Facebook account responsibly in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Indian Army from time to time and has never shared any classified or sensitive information pertaining to his role and duties as an Indian Army officer over Facebook or any other social networking platform," the plea said.
It said that the policy to ban the use of social networking platforms and order soldiers to delete their accounts on the list of social networking platforms and websites is unenforceable, illegal, and unconstitutional.
The plea said that the ban and order to delete accounts if imposed would amount to an abrogation of the fundamental rights of the soldiers, including the right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to privacy. (ANI)