Karnataka HC Quashes UP Police’s Notice to Twitter India MD; Says its Tool of Harassment

On Friday, the Karnataka High Court called the notice issued by the Uttar Pradesh Police MD of Twitter India a tool of harassment and quashed the said notice, issued u/s 41A of CrPC in relation to FIR registered over videos in Twitter that showed assault on a Muslim man in Ghaziabad.

As per the High Court, UP Police issued the coercive notice without ascertaining that Manish Maheshwari (MD of Twitter) had control over content posted on Twitter. The Court further stated that Section 41A Notice, which contains a threat of arrest, must be read as a notice u/s 160 CrPC used to seek witnesses’ statements. The Bench clarified that Police could get Maheshwari’s statement through video conferencing.

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It further stated that the act of the UP Police was an arm-twisting method. The Court further observed that Twitter India was involved in Market Research and advertising and had no control over the social media content. 

Twitter Ireland controls the content aspect and its affairs, while Twitter India was an Independent entity. It further observed that Maheshwari had not been arraigned as an accused in the Ghaziabad FIR.

In light of these statements, the Court concluded that Section 41A notice was mala fide, a tool of harassment and an arm twisting method.

The Bench also rejected the UP Police’s contention that the petition was not maintainable due to lack of territorial jurisdiction.

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Background:-

On 24th June, the Bench had restrained the UP police from taking coercive action against Maheshwari, pursuant to a notice issued to him u/s 41A CrPC in Ghaziabad FIR. The interim order passed by the High Court came to be challenged by Police before the Supreme Court.

The FIR was lodged after a video of an elderly Muslim man was beaten up by people who had allegedly cut off his beard. A video of the incident was shared on Twitter, and Police termed it an incident to incite communal violence.

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