A Plea Questioning The Ban On Army Officers Using Social Media Rejected By Delhi High Court

    On 6 June 2020, a new policy was developed which ordered all Indian Army personnel to delete their accounts from Facebook and Instagram and 87 other applications. They were also asked to delete their existing accounts by 15 July. A petition was filed by Lieutenant Colonel PK Chaudhary challenging this policy and sought a direction to the Director-General of Military Intelligence to withdraw it. The division bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon in Delhi High Court dismissed the petition on merits.

    The plea articulated that “Soldiers rely on social networking platforms like Facebook to address various issues arising in their families while posted in remote locations and often use the virtual connect to compensate for the physical distance existing between themselves and their families.” The contention on the side of the petitioner was that the ban violates the fundamental rights of the petitioner including freedom of speech and expression and right to privacy and only the parliament has the power to modify the fundamental rights of the members of armed forces.

    Hence, the petitioner had sought a retraction of the “draconian policy” as well as a declaration that the Director-General of Military Intelligence is not empowered under the Constitution or under any other law to modify, amend or abrogate the fundamental rights of the members of the armed forces.

    However, The High Court clearly stated that this ban was done keeping in mind the safety of the nation, so there would be no leniency. The High Court suggested that they could create a brand new social media accounts later. The bench of Justices explained that when no single purpose has been discovered to take into account the plea “there is no question of granting interim relief” again emphasising the fact of nations’ safety.