The Supreme Court will hear a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to frame a separate law to regulate social media platforms and hold them responsible for hate speech and fake news on their platforms.
Petitioner-advocate Vineet Jindal also sought a direction to the Union government for establishing a mechanism for automatic removal of hate speech and fake news within a short span of time.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian will take up the petition on February 1 filed through advocate Raj Kishore Choudhary.
The petition pointed out that even as freedom of speech and expression broadly defines the notion that every person has the natural right to freely express themselves through any media, freedom of expression is a complex right.
Article 19(2) of the Constitution provided for a number of grounds for imposing reasonable restrictions on this right. These are the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, the plea stated.
Maintaining that everyone must take cognisance of fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution, the petitioner cited a number of communal incidents, including of recent Delhi riots, communal violence in Pune in 2014, Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, where social media played the role of incitement.
Emphasising the need to hold social media platforms including the likes of Twitter and Facebook directly responsible for spreading hate speeches in the country, the petitioner said, "after a local communal incident, we rarely ask what the role of social media was and how the social media age changed the way in which communal violence was engineered."