The Supreme Court on Friday asked the central government to explain if it is considering any move to link social media accounts with its unique identity programme Aadhaar.
A bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta asked the centre to inform whether it is contemplating any move on framing policies to regulate social media and linking of social media accounts with Aadhaar, by September 24, the next date fixed for hearing.
The top court order came as it considered a request by Facebook seeking transfer of various petitions linked to the subject from different high courts to the top court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the centre, told the bench that it has no objection to the cases being transferred from high courts to the Supreme Court. The government of Tamil Nadu, however, objected to the move.
Facebook has said that the transfer of cases would help avoid the possibility of conflicting decisions from the high courts.
The top court in the last hearing did not stay the proceedings in the high courts but restrained them from passing any final order.
Facebook told the Supreme Court that two petitions had been filed in the Madras High Court and one each in the Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts.
All the pleas in the three high courts have sought a declaration that Aadhaar or any other government-authorised identity proof should be made mandatory to authenticate social media accounts.
"All the common cases seek similar relief and involve the similar question of law," Facebook said in its plea, adding that any finding on the common questions would have far reaching implications for the general public and the parties.
Facebook has sought a stay on the proceedings in various high courts.
Facebook said that it would face "irreparable loss" if the proceedings were not stayed at this stage, as conflicting decisions would affect its platform used throughout India.
The Madras High Court had expanded the scope of the case to consider the issue of online abuse and fake news being circulated through social media and sought to define the liabilities of intermediaries in cases of fake news and cyber abuse.
The world's largest biometric identity database, Aadhaar has faced criticism from privacy activists and led to cases of exclusion from welfare benefits. Proponents of the voluntary scheme say that it helps the government reduce corruption.
(With inputs from IANS)
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