New Delhi, Dec 17 : The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from the Centre and seven state governments on a plea by Twitter India seeking quashing of multiple FIRs that have been filed against it for allegedly promoting a pro-Khalistan tweet by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the General Counsel of banned secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).
The plea claimed that at least 12 criminal complaints have been registered against Twitter after Pannun tweeted a Twitter poll on ‘Whether India should recognise Khalistan 2020’.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, after briefly hearing the arguments by senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing Twitter Communications India Pvt Ltd (TCIPL), issued notice on the plea.
The plea states that Vinit Goenka, former national co-convener of the BJP IT cell, and other complainants had alleged that Twitter had taken financial consideration to promote Pannun’s tweet, despite already disabling the tweet and suspending his account. Twitter said Goenka launched a public smear campaign against it alleging the platform is anti-India and operating against the sovereignty of India.
The plea said given Goenka’s political stature and the provocative nature of his public exhortations, he has been able to successfully campaign to encourage filing of criminal complaints against Twitter India.
“It is submitted that the allegations levelled by Goenka and his supporters are not only baseless and unfounded but are in fact actuated by malice against the individual employees of TCIPL, who have no role to play in content decisions, no power to determine Twitter’s ad policy, and who collects the revenue from content promoted on the platform,” read the plea by Twitter India.
Citing frivolous nature of many FIRs, the plea contended that the alleged offending tweet was not available for viewing in India. “The registration of several FIRs and lodging of multiple complaints fall out of the settled law that more than one FIR cannot be registered when the substratum of both are common and contain similar allegations,” said the plea, citing identical FIRs in different states.
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