The Centre has denied any threat to top Twitter executives in India for facing arrest over the list of accounts sought to be censured over "inflammatory content", especially those with the hashtag of farmers' genocide, but almost making it clear that the company has to follow the orders as it is not a subject matter of negotiation.
"Twitter has to follow the orders. It is not a subject matter of negotiation. It's the law of the land and if someone has a problem with any action we have undertaken... You are free to take legal recourse," a government source told The Times of India.
"The Centre feels that compliance from Twitter should be immediate. If they do it hesitatingly or grudgingly, or after 10-12 days of our orders, it's not really a case of compliance," the sources added.
The issue of non-compliance
According to TOI reports earlier today, top executives of Twitter India were threatened of facing arrest over the issue of non-compliance of the 'inflammatory posts' with the Centre clearly stating that that its "patience is running out" over refusal of the company to follow the earlier notice given under Section 69A of the IT Act.
On the other hand, the American micro-blogging website, which partially followed the order by taking down around half of the accounts sought to be blocked by the government, is now preparing to approach the courts as it holds ground in the defence of "right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve", reports have said.
During a meeting with Twitter executives Monique Meche and Jim Baker on Wednesday, Union IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney reportedly made it clear that the use of such controversial hashtags was neither journalistic freedom nor freedom of expression.
Reports say Sawhney also expressed his displeasure over differential treatment by Twitter in its handling of the problems on Capitol Hill and Red Fort.
In a newly launched social media app, named 'Koo', the IT Ministry has accused Twitter of "making commercial and business benefit by allowing the handles of those who were spreading poisonous speech" in the name of freedom of expression.
'Unsatisfactory' action by Twitter
As per reports, Twitter is said to have blocked only 126 out of the total 257 accounts. In addition, out of the 1,178 handles which the government suspected to have links with Khalistani and Pakistani elements to further spread misinformation and provocative content, only a total of 583 have been so far de-activated.
This is the reason why the government is still not satisfied with the action taken by the American social media giant.
The government told the company that any entity which operates in India "must be respectful of the democratic nature of our policy. We are a democracy and follow constitutional provisions and laws that have been brought in place after a thorough debate in the Parliament. We can't have the self-created provisions of a private company take precedence over the laws of our land. We ask you to be respectful of the sensitivities of our country and not to infringe upon the legal provisions that govern life in India."
However, Twitter, ever since the very beginning of the controversy has been standing firm on the ground that it will continue negotiations with the government and advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people.
To support its arguments, the company has further assured that it has already taken a range of enforcement actions — including permanent suspension in certain cases — against more than 500 accounts escalated by the IT Ministry.