On 24th June 2021, the High Court of Karnataka presided by Justice G. Narender granted an interim order restraining UP Police from initiating any coercive action against the Managing Director of Twitter India, Mr. Manish Maheshwari.
The writ petition was filed by Maheshwari through Senior Advocate Nagesh under Article 226 of the Constitution when the Uttar Pradesh Police threatened to arrest the petitioner under section 41A CrPC, for failing to appear in person as a witness before Loni Border Police Station. The petitioner had requested to record his statement virtually from Bengaluru.
The summons under section 160 of CrPC was served in relation to an ongoing investigation of a video wherein a Muslim man was assaulted near Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh by six men as they were unhappy with the tabeez (amulets) sold to them. It has been alleged that the assaulted person’s beard had been cut off and was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Vande Mataram” by the assaulters. After conducting the investigation, the UP Police stated that the dispute was not communal in nature.
Tweets were made by journalists and politicians indicating the incident to be communal in nature. Following the incident, an FIR was registered against a few journalists and politicians regarding the same. The FIR states that fake news was shared on Twitter and it instigated communal hatred amongst the masses.
The petitioner submitted that he was a mere employee of Twitter Communication India Pvt. Ltd and had nothing to do with the circulation of the video. His job was to look after advertisement sales as a revenue head. It was further submitted that his designation as ‘Managing Director’ was in no way related to Section 2(54) of the Companies Act, 2013.
Objections were raised regarding the maintainability of the Writ Petition in the Karnataka High Court. However, the Bench observed that the maintainability issue could be settled later, and that primarily the State of Uttar Pradesh had to show that the petitioner was prima facie responsible for the sharing the video.
The Hon’ble High Court has directed the UP police to examine the petitioner virtually if such examination is required. The Court has posted the matter for further hearing on the 28th of June 2021.