A court in Gurugram, Haryana, has summoned Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma after a former employee alleged that he was fired for objecting to “censorship and fake news” on company apps, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Pushpendra Singh Parmar filed a case on July 20 alleging that Alibaba used to censor content critical of China. He also claimed that its apps, UC Browser and UC News, provided false information to “cause social and political turmoil”. Parmar, who worked as an associate director at the UC Web office in Gurugram until October 2017, wants damages worth $2,68,000 (Rs 2 crore).
The case has been filed nearly a month after India banned 59 Chinese-linked apps, including UC Browser and UC News, citing security concerns. The ban came two weeks after Indian and Chinese troops clashed at the border in Ladakh on June 15. India also sought written answers from all affected companies, including whether they had censored content or acted for any foreign power.
Judge Sonia Sheokand issued summons to Alibaba, Jack Ma and about a dozen individuals and company units, Reuters reported. Sheokand said the entities or their lawyers should be present in court on July 29. Sheokand also sought written responses from the company and its executives within 30 days.
The news agency said that it had reviewed the court filings. According to them, a post from 2017 was headlined: “2,000-rupee notes to be banned from midnight today”. Another headline of a 2018 post said: “Just now: War broke out between India and Pakistan”. But Reuters said it could not independently ascertain the veracity of the purported fake news.
“In order to control any news related content to be published against China was automatically/manually rejected by an audit system evolved for this purpose,” the plea added.
UC India said in a statement that it was “unwavering in its commitment to the India market and the welfare of its local employees, and its policies are in compliance with local laws. We are unable to comment on ongoing litigation”.