Last week Manish Singh, a Delhi-based member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) filed a complaint against Instagram. In his complaint he accused the platform used by over 100 million Indians – of “insulting” Hinduism with stickers of Hindu gods. One such objectionable sticker shows Lord Shiva holding a wine glass.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued legal notices to Instagram as well as its parent company Facebook regarding the stickers with Hindu gods, that some say show disrespect.
The notice sent to Facebook and Instagram seeks an explanation as to why such stickers are available on the platforms and why they were not removed from the apps after Indian users pointed out that their religious sentiments were hurt, Indian media reported.
The Delhi High Court has also sent a notice to the Centre seeking responses on why no action was initiated by the government against Facebook and Instagram after the subject was under the spotlight last week. The court has further questioned the government on what are the kinds of measures can be taken against networking giants against religiously hurtful content on their platforms.
On 8 June, plaintiff Singh posted a video message on Twitter saying that he will launch a protest along with a sit-down demonstration at Instagram’s India office if questionable stickers featuring Hindu gods were not removed immediately. Sitting in the backdrop of what looks like a temple with pictures of Hindu deities stuck on the walls – Singh in his video message can be heard demanding an apology from Instagram.
Sharing a copy of his complaint, Singh accused – Instagram – to have been deliberately and intentionally hurting the feelings and sentiments of Hindus with the “tasteless portrayal” of Hindu gods like Lord Shiva.
The case against Facebook and Instagram comes days after the platforms agreed to appoint a resident grievance officer for its India operations as directed by the new digital laws of India that were announced back in February this year.