On July 22, while dictating the order on the petition filed by the MD of Twitter Communications India Private Ltd (TCIPL), the Karnataka High Court said that the doctored video that was the base of the FIR against the petitioner was taken up by some of the accused with the sole intention of bringing communal disharmony. Former acting MD of Twitter India, Manish Maheshwari, had filed the petition challenging the notice issued to him under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure against him.
Karnataka High Court to begin dictating its order in the petition filed by the MD of Twitter Communications India Private Ltd(TCIPL), challenging the notice issued to him under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the Ghaziabad FIR.@TwitterIndia— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 22, 2021
The High Court noted that though Manish was holding the designation of MD, the company had not appointed him as Managing Director, nor he was ever a director in the company. The court also noted that he had been dismissed from his duties by the company. However, the court also stated that as representative of Twitter India, he was bound to cooperate in the investigation.
The court noted that the FIR was registered in the case where a video was shared by the several accused on social media platform Twitter in which a man beard was allegedly chopped off. “In fact, the assailants were a mix of both the Hindu-Muslim community; thus, there was no coercion to chant either Jai Shree Ram or Vande Mataram as they were unhappy with his amulets distributed by him,” said the court.
HC: The background of the allegation is an instance of an incident whose beard was allegedly chopped off. The physical occurrence of the incident was video graphed and the same came to be uploaded on social media platform. Popularly known as twitter.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 22, 2021
The court added, “That the doctored video was immediately taken up by some of the accused with the sole intention of bringing communal disharmony. That accused-1,2,3,5,6,7 have retweeted the tweet knowing fully well that it is a false news.” The court further said that though Ghaziabad police refuted the claims of communal angle in the case, the accused who had posted and retweeted the video did not take it down even after clarification by the Ghaziabad police and it resulted in further tension.
HC: Apart from the said accused the said tweet has been retweeted by several others also due to which the false news and doctored video has spread on a large scale. Leading to religious tension. Despite clarification issued by Ghaziabad police neither doctored video nor tweet— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 22, 2021
‘Twitter did not take any action’
The court noted that a notice was issued to Manish Maheshwari under section 160 CrPC, to which he replied on June 18. As he failed to appear for investigation, the impugned notice dated June 21 was issued against him. A notice under Section 41A was sent to the petitioner. Though the advocate of Maheshwari challenged the notice, it was stated in Public that he was MD of Twitter India. “Thus petitioner is a representative of Twitter India, and he is bound in law to cooperate in the investigation,” the court said.
The court further said that the notice, that is, the petitioner, failed to take any action even after Ghaziabad Police asserted that it was fake news, “despite it being under the authority of notice to stop fake news.”
HC: He would submit that sub sec 1 of 41A is not a guarantee against the arrest of the petitioner. Sub section 3 empowers police officer to arrest such a person though for reason to be recorded and if police officer is of opinion that he needs to be arrested.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 22, 2021
The court said in its order that Maheshwari not only has to cooperate in the investigation if the Police feel there is a need to arrest him, but they can also arrest Maheshwari for further investigation and questioning.
The Ghaziabad doctored video case
On June 14, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair took to Twitter to claim that an elderly Muslim man, Abdul Samad Saifi, in Ghaziabad, was assaulted and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. The incident took place in Loni in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. Soon, left-liberals like Rana Ayyub, Swara Bhaskar, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, The Wire, and several others used the video to spread communal disharmony. In a tweet, Ghaziabad police informed that three accused had been arrested in the case. According to the Police, the incident took place about ten days ago, on June 5, 2021. The Police said the allegations of communal angle and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” were false. UP Police filed a case against several fake-mongers, after which a few of them deleted the tweets. Twitter was also named in the case as one of the accused.