On August 7, while replying to Congress claims that Twitter has suspended the account of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, a Twitter spokesperson denied the allegations and said the account was not suspended. The spokesperson further added that when an account gets suspended, it is removed from a global view. On the contrary, Rahul Gandhi’s account was visible to all. The company said it “continues to be in service.”
Rahul Gandhi tweet was removed by Twitter
Recently, a tweet published by Gandhi was removed by Twitter as it revealed the identity of the relatives of a minor victim who was raped and murdered. Gandhi had published a photograph on August 4 criticising the government over the case in which a nine-year-old Dalit girl was killed following an alleged rape. He wrote, “Parents’ tears are saying only one thing — their daughter, the daughter of this country, deserves justice. And I am with them on this path to justice,” in Hindi.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) brought the tweet to Delhi Police and Twitter’s notice and asked them to take action against Gandhi as he had posted the photo of the girl’s family on the social media platform.
Gandhi’s actions violated the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act that bars everyone from revealing the identity of a minor victim in any format, including print, television and online platforms. Acting on the notice issued by NCPCR, Twitter removed Gandhi’s tweet and locked his account for violation of its rules.
Initially, Congress claimed that Gandhi’s account was temporarily suspended by Twitter and they were trying to get it restored. However, his account was visible to all that raised questions over the said tweet. After the clarification by Twitter, Congress quoted its previous tweet in which they had alleged Twitter has suspended the account and said it has been “temporarily locked.”
Law against revealing the identity of the minor victim
According to Chapter 9, Other Offenses Against Children, Section 74, of Juvenile Justice Act, no report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or audio-visual media or other forms of communication regarding any inquiry or investigation or judicial procedure, shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particular, which may lead to the identification of a child in conflict with the law or a child in need of care and protection or a child victim or witness of a crime, involved in such matter, under any other law for the time being in force, nor shall the picture of any such child be published. If any person is found guilty of revealing the identity, he or she can be punished with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to rupees two lakh or both.
A similar law exist in POSCO Act as well. Sub Section (2) of Section 23 of Pocso Act states, “No reports in any media shall disclose, the identity of a child including his name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child.” It holds the publisher and owner of the media liable for the acts and omissions of the employee. It further states, “Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be liable to be punished with imprisonment of either description for a period which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.”
Notably, under both laws there is a provision that allows such disclosure but only if such disclosure is in the interest of the child.