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Delhi HC to conduct in-camera proceedings on petition challenging decision to bar Army personnel from using social media

ANI | Updated: Jul 21, 2020 23:46 IST

New Delhi [India], July 21 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday decided to conduct in-camera proceedings in a petition filed by an Army officer, who has challenged the decision to bar the Army personnel from using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
In a video conferencing hearing, a division bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon directed the court master to allow only lawyers associated with the matter to be part of the weblink. The court asked its court master to remove those who are not associated with the case including media persons from the weblink.
The court order came on the request of central government counsel who stressed for in-camera proceeding citing sensitive issues and that the inputs related to the matter cannot be disclosed to public.
According to sources, the High Court has reserved its order on the issue of maintainability of the petition filed by petitioner Lieutenant Colonel PK Choudhary.
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 the policy under which they have to delete accounts from social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
The petitioner, who is serving in the Indian Army and is posted in Jammu and Kashmir, 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 stipulated list of social networking platforms and websites is unenforceable, illegal, and unconstitutional.
He added that the ban and order to delete accounts would amount to abrogation of the fundamental rights of the soldiers, including the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to privacy. (ANI)