Delhi HC expresses displeasure with Twitter
The Delhi High Court (Delhi HC) Wednesday expressed displeasure over Twitter Inc. appointing a “contingent worker” as Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and said the microblogging platform was non-compliant with the new Information Technology (IT) Rules. Justice Rekha Palli noted that while the rules mandated the appointment of a key managerial person or a senior employee as CCO, Twitter disclosed in its affidavit that it had appointed a “contingent worker” through a third party contractor.
“He (CCO) is categorical (in his affidavit) that he is not an employee. This itself is in the teeth of the rule. There has to be some seriousness about the rule. Some sanctity has to be given,” the Court remarked. The Court added that it had reservations with respect to the usage of the term “contingent worker” by Twitter especially when it was not known who the third-party contractor was.
File a better affidavit. This is not acceptable. I’m giving you a long rope but don’t expect the Delhi HC to do it on and on.
“What is this contingent worker? I don’t know what it would mean. I have a problem with the word. The contingent then third-party contractor! What is this? I am not happy with the affidavit,” the judge told Twitter. The Court said Twitter’s affidavit was unacceptable and asked it to comply with the rules wholeheartedly. “File a better affidavit. This is not acceptable. I’m giving you a long rope but don’t expect the Court to do it on and on. Disclose the name of the third party contractor and explain contingent,” the Court said as it granted a week’s time to Twitter to file the new affidavit.
The Court further directed Twitter to not only disclose all the details pertaining to the appointment of the CCO as well as the Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) but also clarify as to why a Nodal Contact Person had not been appointed yet and by when the position will be filled.
Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing Twitter, stated that while the CCO was a contingent worker, appointed via a third-party contractor, he has undertaken to perform all functions and responsibilities under the IT Rules. Usage of the term contingent worker was on account of “structure of employment” and the fact that Twitter Inc. did not have a liaison office in India, Poovayya said as he added that the platform would no longer appoint “interim” officers to the posts. It was reiterated that the process for establishing a liaison office on ongoing.
The person appointed as CCO would also act as the RGO, effective July 7, Poovayya said. In the affidavit, Twitter has stated that while one Vinay Prakash has been appointed to the two positions as contingent worker via third party contractor, it “has posted publicly a job announcement” for CCO and RGO as “direct employee” and that it “will make endeavour in good faith to make an offer of employment to a qualified candidate who is resident in India to fill this position in 8 weeks”.
Poovayya further submitted that the Nodal Contact Person was yet to be appointed and sought two weeks from the Court for the appointment. “I don’t know what you want to do. If you want to (comply with the rules), do it whole-heartedly,” the judge responded.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Central government, argued that Twitter was acting in “abject non-compliance of the rules” as the CCO has to be an employee of the social media intermediary and not a contingent worker. “It has been months. You can’t have it so easy. We hold our hands because we are before your lordship,” ASG Sharma said, adding that Twitter earns seven million dollars per year in revenue from India. The matter would be heard next on August 6.
[with PTI inputs]
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