Shashi Tharoor, Meenakshi Lekhi in war of words as House panel questions Twitter

The panel asked representatives of the micro-blogging site as to why it did not remove stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra’s tweets on the Supreme Court and a judge, and sought a reply from it in a week.

SOCIAL MEDIA giant Twitter was in the cross hairs of the Meenakshi Lekhi-led parliamentary committee on personal data protection Bill once again on Thursday. The panel asked representatives of the micro-blogging site as to why it did not remove stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra’s tweets on the Supreme Court and a judge, and sought a reply from it in a week.

The move was questioned by Shashi Tharoor, head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology. “Dear @M_Lekhi, as far as I am aware your Committee was formed for consultations on the Data Protection Bill & its mandate is to report on the statutory provisions continued in the draft Bill. Could you clarify if you have taken on additional responsibilities & on whose authority?,” he tweeted.

Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh, who is a member of the Lekhi-led panel, agreed. “I could not attend the meeting today, but had I been there I would have raised this very issue Shashi Tharoor. It is not the first time this has happened,” he tweeted.

Hitting back, Lekhi tweeted: “Travesty that I have to respond to people who are busy exhibiting their lack of understanding. I refuse to run law tutorials specifically when Sr Advocate from Congress Party Mr Vivek Tankha was present in the committee & has already concurred with me.”

Interestingly, Tankha grilled Twitter officials the most at Thursday’s meeting . He is learnt to have asked how Twitter can allow use of abusive language against a Constitutional functionary. He told the officials that India was a conservative society and does not tolerate disrespect of constitutional functionaries.

Last week, Attorney General K K Venugopal had granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt of court proceedings against Kamra over his “highly objectionable” tweets on the Supreme Court and a judge. Kamra had posted the tweets the day a vacation bench of Supreme Court granted interim bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in an alleged abetment to suicide case. Kamra has made it clear that he does not intend to retract his tweets or apologise.

Earlier, the panel had pulled up Twitter for wrongly showing Ladakh as a part of China in its local setting. Twitter has submitted an apology to the panel.

Speaking to reporters, Lekhi said, “It is shameful that Twitter is allowing its platform for obscene remarks like the one by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra….”

When reached out for a reaction, a Twitter representative said, “We have no comment to share.”

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