Ghaziabad Police not keen on investigating Twitter India's role in viral video: Karnataka High Court

Justice Narendar maintained that if the police wanted to examine him, they could do so through virtual mode.
Twitter logo (Photo | AP)
Twitter logo (Photo | AP)

BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday said the Ghaziabad police was not keen on investigating the case involving Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari's role in a controversial viral video posted by an individual on its platform, claiming that an elderly man's beard was cut as he was forced to chant 'Jai Sri Ram' and 'Vande Mataram'.

Hearing the matter, the single bench of Justice G Narendar remarked: "It is a matter of investigation, that is why I am asking why you have not investigated. The whole problem is you don't want to investigate."

Grilling the respondent, the Ghaziabad police, the court asked, "You are not answering my question at all-- On what basis are you saying Twitter India is responsible?" Noting that Twitter India and Twitter Inc were two independent bodies, the court also wondered whether Twitter India is even an intermediary.

"The complainant is very clear that they are two independent bodies. So, where is the investigation?" the court asked the respondent.

Asking the Ghaziabad police not to mix up Twitter India and Twitter Inc as they are independent bodies, the court sought to know whether the police had even visited the Registrar of Companies (ROC).

"Whether they are required to confirm their compliance with the rules? Where is that material? Unless they are the intermediary...there is no conclusive evidence by you that they are even the intermediary," the court observed.

The bench told the respondent that they could have got information within a day about the activities of the firm from the ROC to verify the content and veracity of the statement by Maheshwari that Twitter India is a separate entity.

"It is not that he (Maheshwari) is defiant. He is very specific, categorical. He says I have no control over the uploading of the video. At least before this court, he has placed the material," the court observed.

Appearing on behalf of Maheshwari, advocate C V Nagesh insisted that Twitter is not even an intermediary as the charges are against Twitter India and not Twitter Inc (USA).

The court then asked the respondent, Where are you heading? (Where are you taking the case?)" "It is nothing but intimidating tactics, that's achieve some other goal, which otherwise they cannot do it," Nagesh alleged.

The matter has been posted for Wednesday.

The case is related to the notice issued by the Ghaziabad police under Section 41-A of the CrPC on June 21, asking Maheshwari to report at the Loni Border police station at 10.30 am on June 24.

Maheshwari then moved the Karnataka High Court as he lives in Bengaluru.

On June 24, the High Court had restrained the Ghaziabad police from initiating any coercive action against him.

Justice Narendar also maintained that if the police wanted to examine him, they could do so through virtual mode.

The Ghaziabad Police on June 15 booked Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India, news website The Wire, journalists Mohammed Zubair and Rana Ayyub, besides Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, Shama Mohamed and writer Saba Naqvi.

They were booked over the circulation of a video in which the elderly man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, claims he was allegedly thrashed by some young men, who also asked him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' on June 5.

According to police, the video was shared to cause communal unrest.

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