Karnataka HC restrains UP police from taking any coercive action against Twitter India’s MD

However, the court said that police can record the petitioner’s statement via virtual mode

Published: 24th June 2021 06:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th June 2021 09:49 AM   |  A+A-

Manish Maheshwari

Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari (Photo| Facebook)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court, in an interim order on Thursday, restrained the Uttar Pradesh police from taking any coercive action against Twitter India’s Managing Director Manish Maheshwari on a notice issued to him over a viral video that had taken a communal twist. 

However, the court said if the police want to question him or require him for investigation, they may do so virtually.Justice G Narendar passed the interim order after hearing a petition filed by Maheshwari, a resident of Whitefield in Bengaluru, while adjourning the matter to June 29.

The Loni Border Police in UP had registered an FIR against Twitter Inc and TCIPL (accused No. 8 & 9) on June 15 under Sections 153, 153-A, 295-A, 505, read with 120-B and 34, of the Indian Penal Code. The video, posted on Twitter, showed an elderly man belonging to a minority community being assaulted in Ghaziabad, allegedly to incite communal tensions. 

Maheshwari moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the notice issued by the UP police under Section 41-A of the Criminal Procedure Code, subsequent to the summons issued to him in connection with the FIR.Maheshwari contended that he is neither the Managing Director of Twitter India Communications Pvt Ltd (TCIPL) nor a board member of TCIPL within the ambit of the Companies Act. 

Manish Maheshwari claimed that he is merely the revenue head, in charge of advertising and sales, but the designation of Managing Director was given as he is a senior employee of the company. Senior Counsel C V Nagesh, representing Maheshwari, argued that the latter had neither uploaded the alleged video nor had he any control over the alleged content uploaded on the company platform of which the petitioner is an employee. Although Maheshwari had replied to the police summons of June 17, a notice was issued to him, he argued. 

He further argued that the petitioner, in his reply to the UP police, had clarified that neither TCIPL nor its employees have any control over the services offered by Twitter Inc., a company incorporated in the USA. Therefore, the petitioner is not the relevant person to provide any details of the case under investigation. Despite this, if the investigation agency requires the petitioner’s presence, he will be available over video conference as he is residing in Bengaluru and not in the jurisdiction of the Loni Border Police. 

Nagesh told the court that the police had turned down Maheshwari’s request and issued a notice on June 21 under Section 41-A of the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC), putting him virtually in the shoes of the accused, to appear before them at 10.30 am on June 24. The police had cautioned Maheshwari that his absence will be considered as resistance to the procedure established by law and an attempt to derail the investigation, and further action will be taken accordingly.

Neither Section 160 nor Section 41-A of CrPC empower the police to issue notice to the petitioner, who is a resident of Bengaluru, Nagesh argued. However, advocate P Prasanna Kumar, representing the UP police, justified the action. He said the petition was not maintainable and the Karnataka High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain it as the FIR was registered in Uttar Pradesh.

FIR for not complying with new IT rules
The first FIR was filed against Twitter in UP after the social media platform likely lost the intermediary status due to non-compliance with the country’s new information technology rules and became liable for prosecution.

ALSO READ: Ghaziabad police slaps second notice on Twitter India MD, cautions him of prosecution


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