Mumbai, Jan 31 (PTI) The Bombay High Court cautioned the Election Commission of India (ECI) Thursday against taking the issue of paid political content on social media “lightly”. Also Read - 2 TMC MLAs Jump Queue, Take COVID Vaccine Out of Turn in West Bengal

A division bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N M Jamdar noted that despite its order, the ECI had failed to send an officer to answer queries posed by the court. Also Read - 1,65,714 Inoculated: India Completes Day 1 of COVID-19 Vaccination Drive, Health Minister Calls it 'Sanjeevani'

The matter was very important, and therefore if the ECI officer failed to remain present at the next hearing too, the court would issue a warrant against him, the bench said. Also Read - SL vs ENG 1st Test: Sri Lanka Openers Lead Hosts Fightback After Joe Root's Double Century

“This is a serious matter. Don’t take it lightly,” the judges said, while adding that the ECI would also have to explain why its officer failed to remain present Thursday.

The bench also directed the Election Commission and social media giant Facebook to file their replies by February 4.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Sagar Suryavanshi.

The petition demands that the ECI should not allow any person, whether politician or not, to post political or election-related advertisements or paid political content on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter 48 hours before the polling day.

At the last hearing, the court had directed the ECI and Facebook to submit suggestions on how to regulate such content.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.