Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari
Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday slammed the Uttar Pradesh police for not ascertaining basic facts in connection with an FIR against Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari even as the latter said he was ready to report to the Ghaziabad police if he got an assurance that he would not be arrested.

When the case against a summons issued by the UP police, filed by Maheshwari, came up before the court, Justice G Narender observed that a “doctored video” was uploaded on Twitter but Twitter India may not be involved in the matter at all. The judge also wondered if the UP police had done its basic homework in figuring out if Twitter India can control content on the platform as against Twitter Inc.

The court asked the UP Police if it had conducted preliminary inquiries to establish Twitter India's link to the case. "When I make an allegation against X for omission or commission, that must be mentioned. Is there anything to show omission by Twitter India? Is it capable of removing content?" the court asked.

The UP police responded saying "That (it) is a matter of investigation."

The court, however, was unconvinced.

"Twitter is run by Twitter, Inc., based in the USA. This is not a secret guarded under the Official Secrets Act. This is not rocket science. On what basis are you saying Twitter India is responsible (for not deleting tweets about the Ghaziabad case)?" it asked.

The observations came after Maheshwari informed the court that Twitter India or its employees have no control over the content uploaded on the popular social media platform.

According to Bar and Bench, the judge observed that there is no case against Maheshwari unless UP Police establishes that Maheshwari was the one who uploaded the content or he did not take it down when asked to do so by the authorities. The video in question had reportedly showed an elderly Muslim man stating he was attacked and forced him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'.

Maheshwari also told the Court that he is ready to appear before police in Uttar Pradesh within 24 hours for the controversial tweets if they provide an undertaking that he will not be arrested.

"If UP Police gives an undertaking to the court that they will not arrest me, I am ready to appear before the police in Ghaziabad within 24 hours," his lawyer told the court.

The court asked the UP police if they were ready to give such an assurance. However, the police sought time and the case was adjourned to 3.45 pm tomorrow.

The Twitter India MD pointed out he had made himself available for questioning via video conferencing but UP Police had insisted on personal appearance.

The UP police had registered a case against Twitter India MD and others for allegedly spreading false information using a video and also triggering communal tension. The FIR also names The Wire, journalists Mohammed Zubair, Rana Ayyub, author Saba Naqvi, Congress politicians Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani and Shama Mohamed as accused in the case.

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