Expressing displeasure over appointment of a “contingent worker” as chief compliance officer (CCO), the Delhi High Court on Wednesday gave the microblogging site, Twitter one “last opportunity” to file a “better” affidavit showing full compliance with the new Information Technology (IT) Rules.
Justice Rekha Palli took strong exception to Twitter’s attitude and termed its latest compliance affidavit as “unacceptable”.
The judge told Twitter “not make things worse for itself by expecting the court to wait forever”, as the affidavit filed by it showed serious non-compliance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The court did not take kindly to the company’s move to appoint one Vinay Prakash, a 31-year old “contingent worker” via a third-party contractor, as CCO when the rules mandate appointment of a key managerial person or a senior employee as CCO.
“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 judge said while rapping Twitter for using term “contingent worker”, especially when it was not known who the third-party contractor was.
“What is this contingent worker? I don’t know what it would mean. I have a problem with the word. It seems to mean that he was employed on some contingency. Contingent then third party contractor. What is this? I am not happy with the affidavit. This cannot be accepted,” the judge told Twitter’s senior counsel Sajan Poovayya.
“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,” justice Palli said while granting a week’s time to Twitter to file a “better” affidavit.
Twitter has to disclose all the details related to the appointment of the CCO as well as the resident grievance officer (RGO) and also explain why a nodal contact person was not be appointed yet and by when it will do so.
Poovayya assured the bench that the company would file a clearly worded affidavit in a week’s time.
Additional solicitor general Chetan Sharma, appearing for the central government, argued that while Twitter earns millions of dollars in revenue from India, it is merely using nuanced phrases like “interim” and “contingency” to avoid compliance with the Indian law. Twitter was acting in “abject non-compliance of the rules” as the CCO has to be an employee and not a contingent worker, he said. “This is absolute non-compliance with rules. It’s been months. They cannot continue to have it so easy. Either they comply wholeheartedly or they don’t comply. This constant non-compliance using nuance terminology cannot be accepted anymore,” Sharma contended.
The matter would be heard next on August 6.