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Explain any plan to link social media accounts with Aadhaar: SC to Centre

The top court order came on a plea by Facebook seeking transfer of various cases from different high courts to the apex court for a final decision saying that that the transfer of cases would serve the interests of justice by avoiding the possibility of conflicting decisions from the High Courts.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Central government’s response on whether it is contemplating any move to link social media accounts with Aadhaar.

A bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta asked the Centre to inform whether it is contemplating any move on framing some policy guidelines to regulate social media and linking of social media accounts with Aadhaar, by September 24, the next date fixed for hearing.

The top court order came on a plea by Facebook seeking transfer of various cases from different high courts to the apex court for a final decision saying that that the transfer of cases would serve the interests of justice by avoiding the possibility of conflicting decisions from the High Courts.

“All the common cases seek similar relief and involve the similar question of law,” Facebook said in its plea, adding that any finding on the common questions would have far reaching implications for the general public and the parties.

Four petitions have been filed in Madhya Pradesh, Bombay and Madras High Courts. All the pleas in the three High Courts have sought a declaration that Aadhaar or any other government-authorised identity proof should be made mandatory to authenticate social media accounts.

The Supreme Court  in the last hearing has not stayed proceedings in the High Courts but restrained them from passing any final order.

Facebook had strongly objected to Aadhaar linkage, saying it would affect the privacy of its users. It said a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had upheld privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Facebook said that conflicting decisions on the prayer seeking to link Aadhaar with social media platforms would adversely impact its platform used throughout India.

The plea said that the common questions involve the interpretation of important Central statutes including the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 which would directly impact the central and state governments.

The Madras High Court had expanded the scope of the case by including the issue of online abuse and fake news being circulated through social media and sought to define the liabilities of intermediaries in cases of fake news and cyber abuse.