BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday lambasted Uttar Pradesh police over their insistence on Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari appearing before them, without affirming his links to the case filed by the Loni border police in Ghaziabad, UP, pertaining to a video that allegedly promoted communal disharmony.
“If there is an allegation under Section 376 of IPC (punishment for rape), potency is important. You can’t make allegations against the impotent. Have you come to the conclusion that Twitter India is capable of controlling the doctored video which was uploaded on the platform of Twitter Inc, a US-based firm,” the High Court asked the UP police.
This was one of a series of questions posed by the High Court to the counsel of UP police, while making oral observations during the hearing of a petition filed by Maheshwari, who questioned the notice issued by the UP police to appear before them.
Justice G Narendra asked the UP police counsel what were the allegations against Twitter India. “How does the complainant connect Twitter India with the crime registered? There must be some allegations and basis for registering the complaint. Don’t bring IT Rules which are not applicable here,” the judge said.The advocate for UP police, P Prasanna Kumar, said it is a matter under investigation and that was why the notice was issued to Maheshwari to appear before the UP police.
He argued that the company must nominate a person to represent it, to fix responsibility, as required under the new IT Rules.Prasanna said Maheshwari’s contention that he may be arrested if he appeared before the police does not hold good as arrest is not required in all cases. But he has to appear and answer questions as a representative of the company, he added.
He said that Twitter India should have some responsibility over its platform in the country as its parent, Twitter Inc, has millions of account holders and followers and cannot be led without a head. All that is needed is for the company to send a representative to answer the police, he added. He argued that the place of residence of the petitioner is not a criterion to approach the Karnataka High Court, as the Loni border police issued the notice. He said that investigation through video-conference will lose its effectiveness and physical appearance of the petitioner is a must.
Senior advocate CV Nagesh, representing Maheshwari, argued that since his client is an employee of Twitter India and a resident of Bengaluru, he approached the Karnataka High Court. Arguing that TCIPL does not have control over services offered by Twitter Inc, he said that the petitioner was neither acquainted with nor informed about the case.
He submitted that Maheshwari will appear before the police if an undertaking is given that he will not be arrested. He said there is a hidden agenda behind the UP police action as they issued a notice to Maheshwari, though his name is not mentioned as accused in the FIR.
He argued that it was for the company to nominate a representative to appear before the police. The arguments are scheduled to continue on Wednesday. During its last hearing, the High Court had passed an interim order restraining the UP police from taking coercive action against Maheshwari.