New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the order directing a senior Indian Army personnel to delete his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Lieutenant Colonel P K Choudhary had challenged the Indian Army’s recent policy banning armed forces personnel from using social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram, saying he has to either abide by the mandate of the organisation or put in his papers.
The order was pronounced by Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon.
According to the new June 6 policy, all Indian Army personnel have been ordered to delete their accounts from Facebook and Instagram and 87 other applications.
During pervious hearings, the officer’s lawyer repeatedly urged the bench to allow him to retain the account in deactivated form, saying forcing him to delete it and the data therein amounts to violation of his right to privacy.
The petitioner’s grievance was that he needs FB to communicate with his family in the US, when there were other modes of communication like WhatsApp, Twitter and Skype which were available to him.
The petition had sought a direction to the Director General of Military Intelligence to withdraw its June 6 policy to the extent that it orders all the members of the Indian Army to delete their accounts from Facebook and Instagram and 87 other applications.
Lt Col P K Choudhary, who is currently posted in Jammu and Kashmir, said in the plea that he is an active user of Facebook and uses the platform to connect with his friends and family as most of them are settled abroad, including his elder daughter.
In the petition, the officer has sought a direction to the Ministry of Defence to withdraw the June 6 policy to ensure that the fundamental rights of armed forces personnel are not abrogated amended or modified by arbitrary executive action which is not backed by the mandate of law, offends the provisions of the Army Act and Rules made thereunder and is unconstitutional.
The petition had alleged that the policy which bans social media platforms is illegal, arbitrary, disproportionate, violates the fundamental rights of soldiers including but not limited to the freedom of speech and expression, the right to life and the right to privacy.
Besides, the Centre and Director General of Military Intelligence, the petition has also made Chief of the Army Staff, who is the professional head, commander and the highest-ranking military officer of the Indian Army, party to the petition.
With PTI Inputs