Plea for relief from physical appearance: HC reserves order on Twitter head’s plea

The Karnataka High Court today reserved orders in the petition filed by Twitter India’s Manish Maheshwari
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Published on Jul 10, 2021 01:00 AM IST
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ByArun Dev, Bengaluru

The Karnataka High Court today reserved orders in the petition filed by Twitter India’s Manish Maheshwari. The Twitter India official had challenged the Uttar Pradesh Police notice asking to appear before them in person regarding a video that alleged an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad was a victim of a 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.

The single bench reserved its order after arguments on Friday, to be pronounced on July 13.

During the hearing, UP Police’s counsel, Prasanna Kumar, submitted that if Maheshwari is not the Managing Director (MD) of Twitter India, he should state the same before the court, and Maheshwari will not be arrested as he is only a representative of Twitter.

In response, Justice G Narendar said: “How many times should he tell that he is not the MD? He already answered, on 18th June.”

CV Nagesh, appearing for Maheshwari, submitted that there was a need to ensure that power under Section 41A is not used to intimidate, threaten and harass people such as the petitioner.

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 on Maheshwari appearing before them in person while he had offered to give a statement over video conferencing with regards to the matter.

Twitter has been in the eye of controversy over the past few months. On May 21, it labelled a tweet by Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra “manipulated media” prompting a Delhi Police investigation. The special cell of Delhi Police questioned Manish Maheshwari, managing director of Twitter in India, in late May.

The company then missed a May 25 deadline to comply with the new guidelines for intermediaries and social media firms, and an official in the IT ministry previously told HT that the company would lose the protection it enjoyed as an intermediary under the country’s IT law as a result.

The Ghaziabad Police has been wanting to question Maheshwari over a video clip that went viral on June 15. The police believe Twitter did not do enough to halt the circulation of the clip which they believe misrepresents the nature of an attack on an elderly Muslim man as a communal hate crime. The Karnataka high court gave the Twitter executive protection from arrest and told the Ghaziabad Police that they could question him virtually, a ruling that has since been challenged in the Supreme Court.

The map that caused the latest controversy was part of a larger image depicting the world map on the company’s website under the careers sections on the page titled Tweep Life. While it showed the disputed Aksai Chin area of Ladakh, illegally occupied by China, as part of that country, it depicted the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir as a separate country.

The misrepresentation caused an uproar online amid the ongoing impasse between the government and the micro-blogging firm.

This is the second time that Twitter has run into trouble over a map in the past year. In October last year, the Centre had served Twitter with a notice over the geotag for Leh showing it as a part of China.

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Monday, November 29, 2021