“Regrettably, a trend is clearly discernible that in the name of exercise of a right, the liberty of free speech is being abused with bad faith.
“Notwithstanding the provisions of law in vogue, it is time the state introduces a regime of conduct with stricter norms, but satisfying the test of reasonableness, in exercise of power conferred by Article 19(2) to deal with rapid rise of absolutely avoidable, uncalled for and unwarranted inflammatory posts on social media,” it said.
Article 19(2) of the Constitution authorises the government to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions upon the freedom of speech and expression.
The freedom of expression should not be used “to sow seeds of hatred and to create disharmony among religious communities,” it said.
The judges were hearing a petition seeking action against Abu Faizal, a purported supporter of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), who is accused of posting inflammatory content.
Petitioner Imran Khan, a city resident, sought a direction to police to take action against Faizal.
He also wanted the videos uploaded by Faizal to be deleted, and a permanent ban on him from using social media.
The court said it would not order social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube to deny Faizal access.
“We leave it free to the private respondents (Facebook and YouTube) to regulate their affairs and make such exclusion as would be desirable for strong reasons of public policy of India and the integrity of the State,” the court said.
The petitioner could file a representation before the nodal officer of the Union Government appointed under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, it added.
Under the Act, such officer can order deletion/removal of any objectionable content from the Internet and also direct social media platforms to permanently block a person.
The court also refused to direct the police to register FIR against Faizal and said the petitioner can pursue the remedy provided under the Criminal Procedure Code.