The Supreme Court has sought the response of US-based instant messaging application firm WhatsApp in a matter relating to blocking of videos of sexual offences on social networking sites.
The court, while making WhatsApp Inc a party in the matter, said that the petitioner might send a detailed email to them to make a presentation, if possible through video conferencing, to assist the committee set up by the court to explore a technical solution to block such videos.
The court's order came after advocate Aparna Bhat, who is representing the petitioner, mentioned the matter before it seeking to make WhatsApp a party in the case.
"On an oral request made by the counsel for the petitioner, WhatsApp Inc having office at 1601, Willow Road, Menlo Park, California - 94025, United States of America is made a party-respondent," a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.
"Since the meetings pursuant to our earlier orders are being held on a day-to-day basis, (we) issue notice to WhatsApp Inc returnable on April 13," the judges said.
"In the meanwhile, the counsel for the petitioner may also send a detailed email to the newly added respondent to make a presentation, if possible through video conferencing, to assist the committee," they noted.
The court had on March 22 constituted a committee comprising representatives from the Centre and Internet majors to explore a technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on social networking sites.
The Centre had earlier informed the apex court that it would set up a specialised agency to block and curb sharing of sexual offence videos on social networking platforms.
The court was hearing a letter sent to then Chief Justice of India H L Dattu by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala along with two rape videos in a pen drive.
It had taken cognisance of its own of the letter about posting of those videos and had asked the CBI to launch an investigation with immediate effect to apprehend the culprits.
The NGO's letter had also mooted the idea of maintaining a national sex offenders' register which should contain details of persons convicted for offences like eve-teasing, stalking, molestation and other sexual assaults.
It had also suggested that the Ministry of Home Affairs should have a tie-up with YouTube and WhatsApp to ensure that such offensive videos are not uploaded and the culprits are punished.