Karnataka HC grants interim relief to Twitter MD in UP case

 The Karnataka High Court on Thursday granted interim relief to Twitter Managing Director Manish Maheshwari, in connection with the FIR filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police over the Ghaziabad attack video.

Justice G. Narendar restrained the UP Police from taking any coercive action against Maheshwari and also directed it to conduct their inquiry through virtual mode.

Senior advocate C.V. Nagesh, appearing for Maheshwari, submitted that his client had no role to play in the circulation of the videos as he is only the revenue head looking after advertisement and sales.

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Moreover, it was submitted that the UP Police first served summons to Maheshwari under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to appear as a witness. To this notice, Maheshwari had replied that he was not in a position to travel to Ghaziabad from Bengaluru and had requested recording of his statement through online means. Citing the Vinod Dua case, it was contended that the Supreme Court had allowed the recording of statements through online mode.

Subsequently, the UP Police had served notice under Section 41A CrPC, threatening he would be arrested if he failed to turn up at Loni Police Station, Ghaziabad.

Advocate Prasanna, appearing behalf of the UP Police, objected to maintainability of the writ petition, raising the issue of lack of territorial jurisdiction.

Justice Narendar, however, observed that the question of maintainability can be decided later. “As the petitioner is apprehending arrest in Bengaluru, the question of interim relief needs to be considered,” he said.

The bench posted this matter on June 29 for next hearing.

An FIR was registered against Twitter and others against the backdrop of a video wherein an elderly Muslim man was asked to shave his beard and was forced to chant “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Shri Ram”.

However, the Uttar Pradesh Police ruled out any “communal angle”, and said that Sufi Abdul Samad, the elderly man, was attacked by six men who were unhappy over the taweez (amulets) he had sold them.

The FIR stated that the accused circulated a video of the incident on their Twitter handles without checking its authenticity, and that they gave the video a communal angle and intended to incite communal hatred between religious communities.

Maheshwari had filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court against the notice issued by UP Police in relation to this FIR, under Section 41A CrPC.

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