Twitter India MD gets relief from court in Ghaziabad case
Manish Maheshwari, the Managing Director of Twitter's India operations, has been granted interim protection from arrest by the Karnataka High Court in connection with tweets about the alleged assault of an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad. Maheshwari had filed a writ petition in the court, challenging the police notice issued against him that asked him to appear for questioning in Uttar Pradesh.
A single-judge bench of Justice G Narender reserved orders until June 29. "This matter needs further consideration...No coercive action (till then)." The court added if the police wanted to investigate, "they may do so by virtual mode."
"I have nothing to do with any of the allegations...Some accused uploaded a video but they have registered an FIR against me," Maheshwari reportedly told the court. "I am in Bangalore. The police sent notice via email. I responded stating I am not in a position to come to Ghaziabad...(I) offered to appear via online. But they want my physical presence (sic)," he said.
Maheshwari was supposed to report at the Loni Border Police station at 10:30 am today to record his statement in the case, however, he failed to do so, according to Atul Sonkar, the Circle Officer. His plea was reportedly filed on Wednesday. The police notice was issued last week, giving Maheshwari seven days to appear before the cops.
Earlier this week, Maheshwari had told the police he was available for questioning via video call. However, the police declined that request, asking him to appear at the police station in-person. "Clarification given by you is inappropriate," the police notice read. Cops also served a notice to Twitter India's Resident Grievance Officer, Dharmendra Chatur, to report for questioning, NDTV reports.
The case pertains to the alleged assault of an elderly Muslim man, Abdul Samad, in Ghaziabad's Loni. Even though he claimed he was attacked by Hindu men and forced to chant "Jai Shree Ram," police said there was "no communal angle" to the incident. Police accused those who tweeted about the matter of provoking communal unrest and named Twitter for failing to delete them.
Police has said that attackers in the case were both Hindus and Muslims and the dispute was related to some amulets sold by Samad. However, Samad's family denies the police's version. "Police is wrong in saying my father used to sell tabeez (amulets). No one in our family does this...We are carpenters (sic)," his son, Babloo Saifi, said, according to NDTV.
Police has so far issued notices to Twitter and news company The Wire in this case, reported The News Minute. Journalist Rana Ayyub, also mentioned in the FIR, had moved the Bombay High Court and secured protection from arrest for a period of four weeks. Others named in the FIR include journalist Mohammed Zubair, writer Saba Naqvi, and three Congress party leaders.
This was the first police case against Twitter after the company reportedly lost legal protection in India for failing to comply with the new IT rules. It implies that Twitter employees can now face police questioning and criminal action over content posted on the platform by its users. Another complaint against Twitter was later filed at a Delhi Police station.