New Delhi: Twitter India chief Manish Maheshwari - who had been summoned by Uttar Pradesh Police for questioning over tweets about the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad - need not travel to UP to testify, the Karnataka High Court said on Friday, in a major relief to the social media executive.
The court also said the notice issued to Maheshwari - whom the police later charged with intent to riot, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy charges - by the Uttar Pradesh police was "malafide".
The Twitter India MD had challenged the summons issued by the Ghaziabad police in connection with a case where a Muslim man was allegedly asked to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' and beaten by goons.
The summons was part of the Ghaziabad police’s FIR against Twitter India and news website The Wire, as well as journalists Mohammed Zubair, Rana Ayyub, author Saba Naqvi, Congress politicians Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani and Shama Mohamed. They have been accused of sharing a viral video clip an elderly Muslim man, identified as Abdul Shamad Saifi, along with misguided information.
They had alleged that he was attacked and asked to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. The Ghaziabad police, however, ruled out a communal angle and said that the incident was a result of personal enmity as the accused were unhappy about a 'tabeez' (amulet) Saifi had sold to them. However, Saifi’s family has denied the police’s version.
Maheshwari, who lives in Bengaluru, told the court that the Ghaziabad police had first issued a summons as a witness, to help in the investigation of the case. “Just two days before they issued me a notice under Section 41A of the CrPC (notice for appearance before a police officer), they had issued a notice under Section 160 CrPC, calling me as a witness”, Maheshwari told the court.
In an interim order, the Karnataka High Court said that the matter requires consideration, and restrained the Ghaziabad police from initiating any coercive action against Maheshwari till June 29, which is when the court said will hear the case further. The court added that in the meantime, if the Ghaziabad police want to examine Maheshwari, they shall do so online. Maheshwari had earlier told the Ghaziabad police that he is ready to join the probe via video call.
In the FIR, the Ghaziabad police said that despite the police’s statement on the incident, the accused did not pull down their tweets where they had shared the video. Twitter has also been named in the FIR as it did not take any action to take the tweets down.
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