Ready to appear over no-arrest guarantee: Twitter head to Karnataka HC
Twitter’s India head Manish Maheshwari told the Karnataka high court on Tuesday that he was ready to appear before the UP Police if they guarantee that they will not arrest him, even as the single-judge bench asked the police if they had ascertained that Twitter India was capable of controlling the content on its platform.
The UP Police had insisted that Maheshwari appearing before them in-person while he had offered to give a statement over video conferencing with regards to a video that alleged an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad was a victim of hate crime. Police said that their investigation later revealed that the incident was over a personal dispute and booked nine people, including Twitter India, for allegedly circulating false information to fan communal tension.
During Tuesday’s hearing, in a petition filed by Maheshwari challenging his appearance before the UP police for questioning, the single-judge bench of justice G Narendar asked the police: “Have you even ascertained whether Twitter India is capable of controlling the content… if the entity is not able to commit such acts, then where is the point?”
The court added: “This petition is nothing unless you can show he could have prevented it.”
Senior Advocate CV Nagesh, representing Twitter India, told the Court that the firm and its employees do not have control over the data of Twitter users. Twitter India and Twitter are two different entities and should not be mixed up, the court added.
In response to this, UP Police’s council Prasanna Kumar said that it did not have information on the responsibilities and liabilities of Twitter India.
“This is information available in the public domain. If the investigation officer says that information can only be extracted through interrogation, I don’t know what to say. You do not want to investigate this,” the court responded.
Twitter India’s council also told the court that UP Police not agreeing to Maheshwari appearing before the police via video conferencing showed an ulterior motive on the police’s side. He added that Maheshwari is ready to appear before the police in Ghaziabad within 24 hours if UP Police give an undertaking to the court that they will not arrest him.
He, however, submitted that UP Police did not have jurisdiction to issue notice to Maheshwari under Section 160 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), and that the FIR does not name the provisions of the new IT Rules, 2021.
CrPC 160 pertains to a police officer’ s power to require attendance of witnesses
On June 16, the government said that Twitter will be considered an intermediary only after it follows the new Information Technology (IT) rules and it will no longer be protected from penal action under Section 79 of the IT Act, which absolves social media firms of liability for third party content, if it did not do so.
Meanwhile, Twitter on Tuesday sternly told by the Delhi High Court that it cannot take “as long as it wants” in this country to appoint a grievance officer. The company has been given time till Thursday to tell the court when it will appoint an India-based officer.