The Centre on February 3 sent a notice to Twitter for reinstating accounts and Tweets supporting the farmers' protest despite a directive by the the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) to block them for posing a threat to public order.
"Section 69A of the Act provides jurisdiction to the Central government in cases wherein it considers it necessary or expedient to direct an intermediary to block for access for public and or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource if the government is satisfied that the same is necessary or expedient in order to prevent incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to public order", the notice read.
"It may be noted that as per Indian law, with which Twitter is bound to comply, Twitter is an "intermediary" as defined under Section 2 [w] of the Information Technology Act and provides a platform wherein opinions of persons are communicated across the world and are open for all to see", MeitY said, adding that refusal to comply would invite penal action.
The government notice effectively raps the social media giant over unblocking dozens of accounts on Monday, noting that "the disproportionality of the said measure [blocking] can not be decided (by) Twitter which is an intermediary bound by the orders of the Central Government".
The government on Wednesday ordered Twitter to immediately take down handles and hashtags that suggested a farmer genocide was being planned, saying such misinformation and inflammatory content would incite passion and impact public order. "Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify the affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing, so e.g. if we receive a court order under seal)".
Failure to do so would invoke Section 69A  for specific penal consequences, it added.
It also says that the "impracticability or the disproportionality of the said measure can not be decided by Twitter which is an intermediary bound by the orders of the Central Government".
He said the arguments made by the Centre to seek withdrawal of accounts, citing worries about genocide, is "completely warped and reprehensible". "We don't know when, how or by whom these orders were issued, or exactly why", he tweeted. Seeking to ban & precensor such discussions is a travesty of India's Constitution + worldwide human rights law. "Don't hide; explain & justify how this is not unconstitutional". Hours later, however, many of these accounts were unblocked.
Earlier today, the Foreign Ministry had put out an unprecedented response amid outpouring of global support and tweets from foreign celebrities - pop icon Rihanna, climate campaigner Greta Thunberg among others - about the farmers' agitation. Besides this, Twitter also suspended accounts covering the farmer protests. While Twitter did act on this, it soon restored the accounts in question.