Twitter has been engaged in a long and bitter feud with the ruling BJP government, and things have looked grim for the social media intermediary. Finally, it seems that Twitter was due for a reprieve, as the Karnataka High Court has quashed a notice issued by the Uttar Pradesh Police under Section 41-A of the CrPC against Twitter India’s Managing Director (MD) Manish Maheshwari in connection with the circulation of a video clip showing the assault of an elderly Muslim man.
The court maintained that Maheshwari’s plea challenging the notice under Section 41A against him was maintainable and the physical appearance of Maheshwari before the Ghaziabad Police for further questioning was not mandatory.
The single bench of Justice G Narendar said that the notice was a malafide act on the part of the police, adding that it could be treated as issued under Section 160 of the CrPC, allowing Ghaziabad police to question Maheshwari through virtual mode, at his office or his residential address in Bengaluru.
“It is not only the failure of the police to obtain information available in the public domain, but the ominous silence maintained regarding merits of the matter and any attempt to coax the court on the subject of territorial jurisdiction alone,” the court observed.
Justice Narendar observed that the invoking of Section 41A was “arm-twisting” when it had not submitted evidence to show that Maheswari was capable and had control over the content on the platform. “Provisions of the law cannot be permitted to become tools of harassment. In this case, the UP Police has not even placed an iota of material indicated that warrants notice under Section 41A,” Justice Narendar said.
Maheswari argued that Twitter India was independent of Twitter and clarified that he had nothing to do with the controversial video clip. Both Twitter India and Twitter had come under the scanner for sharing the video on the platform back in June. He had challenged the notice that required him to appear before the police arguing that he was a resident of Bengaluru which was outside the jurisdiction of the UP Police and thus the notice was not authorized under law. He was granted interim relief on June 24 after the UP Police were directed not to take coercive action against Maheshwari.