The Karnataka High Court is set to hear a plea by Manish Maheshwari, Twitter’s India head, seeking transit anticipatory bail in connection with a police case in Uttar Pradesh that involves tweets about the assault of a Muslim man in the state’s Ghaziabad district.
The plea will be heard at 2.30 pm by Justice G Narendar.
The plea was filed June 23 – two days after Ghaziabad police summoned Mr Maheshwari for questioning. He was given seven days to appear before the police and record his statement.
This morning police sources said he was expected at the Loni police station at 10.30 am. However, he has not appeared so far, according to Atul Sonkar, the Circle Officer quoted by news agency PTI.
On Monday Mr Maheshwari had declared himself available for questioning via a video call.
The offer was rebuffed by the police, who insisted on his physical presence. They also served notice to Twitter India’s Resident Grievance Officer, Dharmendra Chatur, to report for questioning.
An FIR was filed last week against Twitter India, several journalists and Congress leaders after an elderly man – Abdul Samad – alleged he was thrashed by some others and forced to chant “Jai Sri Ram” and “Vande Mataram“. A video of the incident was widely shared on social media.
Those named – who include journalists Rana Ayyub and Saba Naqvi, and Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Shama Mohamed and Maskoor Usmani – were accused of posting and sharing “misleading” tweets, and the video, and “provoking communal sentiments”.
Twitter India had been ordered to delete such posts but initially failed to do so.
This week PTI quoted sources as saying the company had “withheld” 50 tweets after receiving a legal request to do so. The sources said the tweets contained content related to the video clip.
“You couldn’t remove certain tweets even after you were asked to by authorities. You understand Indian laws and are bound to follow them,” the notice summoning Mr Maheshwari had said.
The police have denied any “communal angle” in the case, claiming the man was beaten up over amulets he sold. They alleged he was attacked by six persons – Hindu and Muslim – known to him.
Mr Samad’s family, however, has denied the police’s claims.
“Police is wrong in saying my father used to sell tabeez (amulets). No one in our family does this… We are carpenters. Police are not saying the right thing – let them investigate,” his son, Babloo Saifi, told NDTV.
This is the first time a case has been filed against the social media giant after the centre’s new rules for online news publishing platforms came into effect.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last week said: “What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news…Twitter has been overenthusiastic about its fact-checking, failure to act in multiple cases like UP… indicates inconsistency in fighting misinformation.”
The Editors Guild of India condemned the filing of cases against news website The Wire and several journalists for their tweets. It said it was “deeply concerned by UP Police’s track record of filing FIRs against journalists to deter them from reporting serious incidents without fear of reprisals”.
With input from PTI