Top Twitter executives could not only face financial penalties but also face upto seven years in jail if they fail to remove content and accounts that are 'objectionable and inflammatory," Times of India reported quoting an unnamed official from the ministry of information technology.
Twitter has been asked to comply with the provisions under the Indian IT Act or else it would face action under Section 69A of the IT Act which gives the government power to seek the blocking of content or accounts that carry information seen as detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country, or has potential to create public disorder.
The warning from the IT ministry comes just as the micro-blogging site faced the heat from a parliamentary standing committee over perceived biases in blocking accounts ahead of elections.
As India heads for national elections, social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have been asked to not undermine or influence the political process. In fact earlier this week, Twitter went live with its 'Ads Transparency Centre' for India, that would allow people to view details of political advertisements in the country, including advertiser spends and impressions data.
A parliamentary panel last month asked micro-blogging site Twitter to engage more with the Election Commission of India (ECI) ahead of general elections and address issues on a "real-time" basis.
The Twitter officials were told that there should not be any "international interference" in the Lok Sabha polls.
Twitter had last month announced that it would provide details including advertising spends and impressions data of tweets from political entities to users in India, as it sought to bring in greater transparency on its platform by tightening norms for political advertisements.
Twitter, in its blog post on February 19, had said enforcement of this policy would begin in the week starting March 11 in specific countries including India, after which only certified advertisers will be allowed to run political campaigning advertisements on its platform. Other social media players like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platform, and have since lined up a slew of measures as part of election integrity efforts.
Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue for over a month till May 19 across seven phases, followed by counting of votes on May 23. The polling will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19 for 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country in which nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote.