The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice on a petition of the Uttar Pradesh government against the Karnataka High Court’s order quashing the notice issued by Uttar Pradesh Police to former Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari. The HC had also granted him interim protection in the viral video which showed an attack on a Muslim man in the city on the outskirts of Delhi.
A division bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli issued notice to Maheshwari on the UP plea. The state, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, questioned the jurisdiction of the Karnataka High Court order which had quashed the personal appearance notice to Maheshwari in the case.
The Uttar Pradesh police claimed the video was manipulated to present a skewed communal narrative and was amplified by its spread on Twitter. Maheshwari has already moved a caveat in the apex court for being heard when UP’s appeal is listed.
“The petitioner is an employee of Twitter Communications India Private Limited (TCIPL) and that he is the revenue head in-charge of advertising and sales. Being a senior employee of the company TCIPL, a public designation of Managing Director is provided to the petitioner but he has not been appointed as the Managing Director in terms of Section 2(54) of the Companies Act. Therefore, the petitioner has never been and is not a member of the Board of Directors of TCIPL. The registered office of TCIPL is located in Mumbai while the petitioner has been discharging his duties as an employee of TCIPL at the registered office at Bengaluru and is also residing at Bengaluru,” submitted the counsel for Maheshwari before the Karnataka High Court.
A complaint was registered on the the information furnished by one Naresh Singh, Sub-Inspector, Thana Loni Border, Ghaziabad, UP, where nine accused persons were named and action was sought against the accused on the ground that they were responsible for the transmission and further transmission of certain tweets and video.
The allegation, in sum and substance, against the accused is that they failed to stop the transmission by removing the tweets despite being made aware that the incident on which the tweets are based is false news and that false news should not be propagated.
The doctored video was immediately taken up by some of the accused with the sole intention of spreading communal disharmony and the accused have re-tweeted knowing fully well that it is a false news. That apart, the tweet by the accused, has been re-tweeted by several others also due to which the doctored video and false news has spread on a large scale leading to increasing religious tension. Despite the clarification issued by the Ghaziabad Police, neither the doctored video nor the tweets have been deleted by the authorities who run and maintain the social media platform.
The counsel for the state of Uttar Pradesh who appeared before the Karnataka High Court contended that despite clarification issued by the Ghaziabad Police (correct facts), the tweets have not been deleted due to which religious tension is increasing further. Additionally, Twitter Inc and Twitter India Communication Private Limited (TCIPL) also did not take any steps to remove the said tweets.
Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari was transferred to the US by Twitter in August this year. The Karnataka High Court had quashed the notice on July 23. Holding it “mala fide”, the high court had said the notice under Section 41(A) of the CrPC should be treated under Section 160 of CrPC allowing Ghaziabad police to question Manish Maheshwari through virtual mode, at his office or his residential address in Bengaluru. Section 41 (A) of the CrPC gives power to police to issue a notice to an accused to appear before it when a complaint is filed and if the accused complies with the notice and cooperates, then he is not required to be arrested.
The Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) police had issued a notice under Section 41-A of the CrPC on June 21 asking him to report at the Loni Border police station. Maheshwari then moved the Karnataka High Court as he lived in Bengaluru. On June 24, the High Court, in an interim order, restrained Ghaziabad police from initiating any coercive action against him. The Ghaziabad Police on June 15 had booked Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India Pvt Ltd (Twitter India), website The Wire, journalists Mohammed Zubair and Rana Ayyub, besides Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, Shama Mohamed and writer Saba Naqvi. They were charged for the circulation of a video in which an elderly man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, alleged that he was thrashed by some young men, who also asked him to chant Jai Shri Ram on June 5.