The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court against a Karnataka High Court order that gave Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari temporary protection against any coercive action, reported Live Law. The matter is in connection with a case related to tweets about the assault of an elderly Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district.
A writ petition, filed by Maheshwari on June 22, challenged the legal notice issued by the Ghaziabad Police to him under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Notices under this section mandate appearance before a police officer.
On June 24, the Karnataka High Court had said that Maheshwari was “apprehending deprivation of liberty”. Justice G Narendar also said that the matter requires further consideration and will be heard on June 29. The High Court said that the police can question Maheshwari virtually. He added that the Twitter India head, who is a resident of Bengaluru, would not have to travel to Uttar Pradesh for the time being.
During the hearing, advocate CV Nagesh said Maheshwari was just an employee of the organisation and had nothing to do with the case.
“I have nothing to do with the offence,” Nagesh said. “Twitter is not controlled or administered by me. Company’s name is Twitter Communications India Private Limited.”
This was the second notice sent to Maheshwari after he had said he would be available via video call after the first summons on June 17.
The Twitter India head said the basic question before the court was summons issued under Section 41A of CrPC. “Just two days before issuing this notice they issued me a notice under Section 160 [of CrPc] calling me as a witness,” he told the court.
The police have claimed that the tweets and videos on the assault of the man were “an attempt to destroy communal harmony”.
Apart from Twitter India, the Uttar Pradesh police have filed a case against The Wire, journalists Rana Ayyub, Saba Naqvi and Mohammad Zubair and Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Masqoor Usmani and Sama Mohammad.
The Karnataka High Court has issued a notice on a plea filed by Zubair seeking transit bail. The High Court also noted that Zubair, who is also the co-founder of fact-checking website AltNews, did not need transit bail as there was no apprehension of arrest.
In the case against Rana, the Bombay High Court on June 21 granted her protection from arrest for four weeks.
The assault incident
The case relates to a video depicting 72-year-old Abdul Samad Saifi saying that he had been abducted in an autorickshaw by several men and locked up in a secluded house. Saifi alleged he was assaulted and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”. He also said the assailants cut his beard and made him watch videos of other Muslims being attacked.
Though the alleged assault took place on June 5, the video of the attack and of Saifi narrating the incident was circulated widely on social media on June 14.
However, the Ghaziabad Police, which registered a case based on Saifi’s complaint, on June 15 claimed that there was no communal angle to the assault. The police added that both Hindus and Muslims were among the accused who beat up the elderly man. Saifi, they said, had been beaten up because an amulet he gave one of the assailants had an adverse effect on them.
The police had arrested nine people in connection with the assault. However, the accused have been granted interim bail by a court in Ghaziabad.