08, Oct 2015
Days after PM Narendra Modi’s return from the Facebook headquarters in the US, a contract between the Indian government and the social media giant has come under the scanner of the Delhi high court. Abench of Justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva on Wednesday pulled up the Centre for “hiding the contracts“ from the court. “Why are you not filing the contract?
Why are you hiding them from us? What is the hesitation? It’s been five months since our May 7, 2015 direction,“ the HC said giving the Centre time till October 28 to place contracts with Google and WhatsApp apart from Facebook.
On May 7, the Centre had sought time to place before the court the “exact nature of the contracts which have been entered into by the government government departments with the social media sites on the internet“. It failed to place the contract and sought more time on July 30.
During the latest hearing, the HC indicated that it has a “lot to say on the contracts“, while the Centre maintained that these are “standard contracts“ with the sites and “not tailor-made“. The HC’s observations came while hearing a PIL filed by former BJP member K N Govindacharya, who has raised questions on the use of social media by government departments. Lawyer Virag Gupta, appearing for Govindacharya, told the court that the “Centre has become the biggest marketing agent for social media sites“ and is “transferringsurrendering“ all intellectual property rights (IPRs) of the data being uploaded on these sites.