The Karnataka High Court has given relief to Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari by restraining the Uttar Pradesh police from taking any coercive action against him. The relief comes after Maheshwari had approached the HC for transit anticipatory bail after he got a notice from Ghaziabad Police to appear at the Loni police station in connection with the tweets over the assault of an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad.
Justice G. Narender said the police can examine Maheshwari if they so desire by virtual mode. The judge said the petitioner is fearing arrest. Maheshwari’s counsel Senior Advocate Nagesh said Maheshwari is an employee who looks after revenue generation via advertisements and is not a director of the company to be held liable for content on the platform.
An FIR had been filed last week by Ghaziabad Police against Twitter India, several journalists, and Congress leaders after the man Abdul Samad alleged he was thrashed by some youth and forced to chant “Jai Sri Ram” and “Vande Mataram”. Journalists Rana Ayyub and Saba Naqvi, and Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Shama Mohamed and Maskoor Usmani were also charged for posting and sharing the alleged “misleading” tweets, and the video, and “provoking communal sentiments”.
In the Tweet, Samad claimed he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Vande Mataram” though police ruled out the communal angle, saying the accused — both Hindus and Muslims — attacked the man after a dispute over amulets. Soon after the video went viral, Police booked Twitter and some individuals for misinformation.
Social media companies have to comply with the new IT Rules that came into effect on May 26 this year, to get protection and the absence of the same exposes them to be held liable for fake news, harassment and defamation on their platform. The Uttar Pradesh government has become the first to book Twitter in a criminal offence after the social media company failed to comply with the new rules.
Manish Maheshwari was expected to reach the police station at Loni, which is on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border for questioning related in connection with the controversial tweets. “You couldn’t remove certain tweets even after you were asked to by authorities. You understand Indian laws and are bound to follow them,” the notice summoning Maheshwari had said.