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Days after Karnataka High Court interim relief, Twitter India’s Manish Maheshwari files caveat petition at Supreme Court

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An FIR was filed against Twitter and its MD as the company had allegedly failed to delete ‘provocative’ tweets over the Ghaziabad assault case despite clarification by Ghaziabad Police. 

Twitter Communications India Private Ltd’s Manish Maheshwari filed a caveat petition at the Supreme Court requesting that he is heard before any orders are passed in case Uttar Pradesh Police file an appeal against the interim relief granted by Karnataka High Court. Maheshwari’s advocate for the caveat petition, EC Agrawala confirmed the same to MediaNama.

On June 24, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order restraining the Uttar Pradesh Police from initiating any coercive action against Maheshwari. The HC was hearing a petition filed by the Twitter India employee in response to Ghaziabad Police’s two notices to him asking him to appear before the police in relation to tweets over the Ghaziabad assault case made on the platform.

What is a caveat?: Sec 148A of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 defines a caveat petition as a precautionary measure taken by an individual who holds fear that a different case may be filed against him on a related matter. Essentially, by doing this, the petitioner ensures that the court will hear him before any decision is taken upon any case brought against him/her.

On June 17, the Loni Border Police Station issued a notice under Section 160 of the CrPC to Maheshwari, designating him as managing director of Twitter India, and asked him to appear before the police in Ghaziabad district. A few days later, the UP Police issued another notice, this time under Section 41 A, saying that if he failed to turn up in Loni Border Police Station, action will be taken against him.

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While passing the interim order, a single judge bench of Justice G Narender of the Karnataka High Court questioned the issuance of the notice to Maheshwari under Section 41 A and asked Uttar Pradesh Police to furnish further information on the matter.

In an oral order passed on Thursday evening, the bench said, “The case of the petitioner is that he is an employee of the ninth accused (Twitter India), and is the revenue head in charge of advertising and sales, he is neither a member of the board of directors nor is he responsible for the uploading of the alleged video…”

In the meanwhile, there will be an interim order restricting the respondents from initiating any coercive action against the petitioner. It is needless to say, in the event, if the police desires to examine the petitioner in relation to the investigation, they may do so in virtual mode — Justice G Narender

Notice related to the Ghaziabad Assault

A few weeks back, the Loni Police Station registered cases against Twitter India, Twitter Inc, Congress politicians, and journalists with regard to tweets that were posted about the case. Twitter was named as an accused in the case since it had allegedly failed to delete ‘provocative’ tweets despite clarifications made by the Ghaziabad Police regarding the matter.

On June 5, an elderly Muslim man was attacked in Loni in UP’s Ghaziabad district. A Hindustan Times report said that the assailants also chopped 72-year-old Abdul Samad’s beard and forced him to chant religious slogans. A video of the incident went viral on social media platforms in the following days.

While it is being said that the attack is communal in nature, police deny that angle and maintain that it was an interpersonal matter that led to the attack. The FIR reportedly said that the Ghaziabad Police had clarified the matter. However, despite that, other accused named in the FIR did not delete their tweets and Twitter did not do anything about it.

Quoting from the FIR, a report by The Wire reads, “These tweets were done with the intent of disturbing the peace in the society. The tweets not only created tension but also invoked fear among a particular community in Uttar Pradesh.”

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