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Delhi HC refuses interim relief on plea against baring Army officials from using social media

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant interim relief to Army officer, who has challenged the decision to bar the security forces personnel, from using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
A division bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon said that no relief could be granted to petitioner Lieutenant Colonel PK Choudhary as it is the matter concerning the security and safety of the country and listed the matter for further hearing on July 21.
The High Court was hearing a petition, filed through advocates Shivank Pratap Singh and Sanandika Pratap Singh, challenging the Central government’s decision to bar personnel of the security forces from using social media platforms.
The petition urged the High Court to issue directions to the Director-General of Military Intelligence (DGMS) to withdraw its policy dated August 6, 2020.
Choudhary sought directions to the respondent authorities to withdraw its policy to delete their accounts from social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Currently, the petitioner is serving in the Indian Army currently posted in Jammu and Kashmir and claimed to be an active user of Facebook and uses the platform inter alia to connect with his friends and family.
The petitioner said that he finds social media platforms, particularly Facebook as an important tool to connect with his family, adding that through Facebook, he maintains his social relationships with friends, family and other acquaintances in the absence of opportunities to physically interact with them.
“The petitioner has used his Facebook account responsibly in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Indian Army from time to time and has never shared any classified or sensitive information pertaining to his role and duties as an Indian Army officer over Facebook or any other social networking platform,” the plea said.
It said that the policy to ban the use of social networking platforms and order soldiers to delete their accounts on the list of social networking platforms and websites is unenforceable, illegal, and unconstitutional.
He added that the ban and order to delete accounts if imposed would amount to an abrogation of the fundamental rights of the soldiers, including the right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to privacy.

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