Ghaziabad incident: HC quashes U.P. police notice indirectly portraying Twitter India MD as accused

In a relief to Manish Maheshwari, managing director (MD) of Twitter Communications India Pvt. Ltd. (TCIPL), the High Court of Karnataka on Friday quashed the notice issued to him by Uttar Pradesh police indirectly portraying him as an accused in the Ghaziabad case related to uploading and circulating a “communally sensitive” video and tweets on the microblogging platform.

However, the court said the notice, issued to him under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure on June 21, would now have to be treated as the one issued under Section 160 of the Cr.PC, which treats a person as a witnesses.

Also, the court said the Loni Border police of Ghaziabad district could record his statement either through virtual mode or by visiting his office or residence in Bengaluru city.

Justice G. Narendar, while disposing of Mr. Maheshwari’s petition, also said that the High Court of Karnataka had the jurisdiction to entertain the petition as a part of the cause of action had occurred in Bengaluru as the petitioner was residing and working in the city though the incident of uploading video took place in U.P.

“Issuance of notice to Mr. Maheshwari under Section 41A of the Cr.PC appears to be an arm-twisting method as he had refused to heed to the notice issued earlier [on June 17] under Section 160,” the court said while observing that “the provisions of the statute cannot be permitted to become tools for harassment”.

None of the three ingredients — a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed a cognisable offence — that are pre-requisite for issuance of notice under Section 41A of the Cr.PC exists against Mr. Maheshwari, the court observed.

Stating that the U.P. police had “not placed an iota of material” that would show prima facie involvement of Mr. Maheshwari, the court pointed out that the U.P. police themselves had made it clear that Mr. Maheshwari was not summoned in his individual capacity as he was not named as an accused in the First Information Report but he was asked to take part in the investigation in representative capacity of the MD of Twitter India, which was arraigned as an accused.

The court also said that records indicate that TCIPL or Mr. Maheshwari had nothing to do with contents uploaded on Twitter, as Twitter Inc., U.S., which controls the contests, does not possess any share in TCIPL as only Twitter International and Twitter Netherlands respectively hold 99% and 1% shares of the TCIPL.

As records also indicate that TCIPL has been engaged only in advertising and market research, it cannot be said that Mr. Maheshwari is indirectly capable of controlling contents of the microblogging platform owned by Twitter Inc., the court said.

The U.P. police had registered the case against nine accused — six individuals, including journalists, news website The Wire, Twitter Inc. U.S., and TCIPL for circulating the video, said to be a fake one, related to an alleged assault on an elderly Muslim man, who claimed that he was thrashed by some young men after compelling him to chant “Jai Shri Ram and Vande Mataram”. While terming the claims made in the video as “false”, the U.P. police had said that Twitter had not only failed to remove the “fake” video despite a press release issued by the police clarifying the facts but had also allowed it to be retweeted.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 11:52:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/ghaziabad-incident-hc-quashes-up-police-notice-indirectly-portraying-twitter-india-md-as-accused/article35502172.ece

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