Observing that the issue of linking Aadhaar number to social media profiles needs to be decided at the earliest, a two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) comprising of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose on Friday asked the central government if they were in the process of formulating any laws, rules or guidelines about the same. The case will be next heard on September 24.
The apex court was hearing a transfer petition moved by Facebook. The US-based social media company has approached the apex court seeking claiming that it was difficult for the company to keep defending its position in various High Court (HC) across the country. The high courts had given conflicting observations in the case, Facebook had claimed, adding that it would be in the interest of justice if the SC heard all the cases at one place.
There have been several public interest litigations (PILs) filed in the case, with the earliest being moved before the Madras HC in July 2018. The petitioner, Antony Clement Rubin, had sought directions from the court to ask the government to make it mandatory to link Aadhaar or any other government authorised identity proof for authentication of social media profiles. Other similar PIL sought that Facebook should seek some sort of government-authorised identity before allowing any person to open an account on its platform.
On Friday, the central government told the two-judge Bench of Justices Gupta and Bose that it did not have any problem transfer of the cases from high courts to the top court. The state of Tamilnadu, however, has objected to transfer of the cases and requested the top court that the Madras high court should be allowed to hear the case and pass appropriate orders.
The plea by the state came after the top court bench had last month, while agreeing to hear the case said that though it would not stop the Madras HC from hearing the matter, no final orders should be passed. In its plea, the state said that Facebook had incorrectly stated in its transfer petition the stage in which the cases were pending in various high courts, the state has in its plea before SC said if the case was not heard expeditiously, firms such as Facebook would continue to operate without following the country’s laws.
“In this regard, it may be noted that the local law enforcement authorities have attempted to seek information from these companies for the investigation and detection of crimes on several occasions. These companies, instead of replying and providing information in a bona fide manner, have asked the authorities to send letters rogatory etc, despite operating on Indian soil, and have in all cases failed to provide complete information,” the state had said in its plea.