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UP Police is vindictive and has hidden agenda: Twitter India employee Manish Maheshwari’s counsel

The remarks were made in a Karnataka High Court hearing of Maheshwari’s petition that he filed after UP Police named him in an FIR over the Ghaziabad assault video case.

Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari’s counsel said that it was ‘vindictive’ of the Uttar Pradesh police to issue legal notices insisting on his client’s physical appearance at the Loni Border Police Station despite his clarifications, and said it was indicative of having a ‘hidden agenda’. Over the last two days, the Karnataka High Court has been hearing a petition filed by Maheshwari seeking relief from the Uttar Pradesh police which had served notices to the former over content that was uploaded on Twitter.

Background: The content in question is a viral video of an elderly Muslim man who was attacked in Ghaziabad’s Loni district on June 5. While many took to social media to say that the attack was communal in nature, the Ghaziabad Police claimed that it was not, and it urged Twitter to take down such content. Following that, the Loni Border Police registered an FIR against a few people who uploaded the video and also, against Twitter Inc and Twitter India for allegedly failing to take down the content despite a ‘clarification’ issued by Ghaziabad Police. It is in this regard that the police sent two notices to Twitter India’s Manish Maheshwari, under Section 150 of the CRPC and Section 41 A respectively, urging him to appear in person at the police station for investigation purposes.

Earlier, the Karnataka High Court had given interim protection to Maheshwari from any coercive action by the UP Police. During the recent hearings, Maheshwari’s counsel, senior advocate CV Nagesh criticised the UP Police for not allowing him to comply with the notice virtually — over a video call.

Nagesh said that Maheshwari had communicated to the UP police on June 18 that he was just an employee and had nothing to do with the accusations alleged in the FIR registered against Twitter and Twitter India in the Ghaziabad assault video case. He also added that Maheshwari had said that he was ready to comply with the investigation virtually, over video.

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Nagesh quoted the UP Police’s response to a communication by Maheshwari, saying, “We have received your email dated 18 June. It is clear from your email that you are avoiding to cooperate with the ongoing investigation. The reasons for clarifications given in reply are not at all justified.”

In response to this, Nagesh on Wednesday, said, “This is nothing but a vindictive stand, which came to be taken by the investigator. For the reason, in this wisdom, I did not comply with his direction under Sec 160…” In continuation of this on Thursday, Nagesh said, “I said I cannot come personally, so investigate me virtually. But he (police) was not happy. He did not do it because there is a hidden agenda.”

Jurisdiction issue

Apart from that, while claiming that the jurisdiction of the case is under the Karnataka High Court, Nagesh referred to various judgements. Earlier the UP Counsel Prasanna Kumar had contested the jurisdiction of the case at Karnataka High Court by stating that the FIR in the case was registered at Loni Border Police Station in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.

These are the judgements Nagesh had referred to on Wednesday while arguing for the jurisdiction of the case at Karnataka High Court —

  • Shanti Devi vs Union of India
  • Navinchandra N Majithia vs State of Maharashtra and others

While continuing his submissions on Thursday, Nagesh said, “For me to invoke your lordship’s jurisdiction are threefold: I (Maheshwari) am a resident of Bengaluru, My office is in Bengaluru and the notice that was sent to me was on my official email ID, which is based in Bengaluru.”

The court adjourned after this, and the hearing is set to resume on Friday.

On Tuesday the High Court had questioned Kumar for not affirming the ‘basic facts’ in the Ghaziabad assault video case wherein both Twitter Inc and Twitter India have been named as accused. The single-judge bench of Justice G Narender had taken cognisance that Twitter Inc and Twitter India were different entities, and questioned whether the latter was ‘capable of taking down the content’. The bench also noted that Maheshwari had stated that Twitter India has no control over the content on the platform.

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