"Ready To Appear Before UP Police If...": Twitter India Head Tells Court

Twitter India chief Manish Maheshwari - a Bengaluru resident - was summoned to UP for questioning over tweets about the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad

Twitter India chief Manish Maheshwari had offered to be questioned via video calls (File)

Bengaluru:

Twitter India chief Manish Maheshwari has told the Karnataka High Court he is ready to appear before police in Uttar Pradesh within 24 hours - for questioning over tweets about the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad - so long as 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 on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Maheshwari pointed out he had made himself available for questioning via video conferencing but UP Police had turned down the offer, and insisted he appear in person.

The court, after asking UP Police about its understanding of Twitter India's (and Mr Maheshwari's) connection to the case, adjourned the matter to 3.45 pm tomorrow.

Earlier, UP Police - which last month sent Mr Maheshwari notice under a legal provision that would have allowed his arrest - said: "We don't want to arrest..."

"Manish Maheshwari was summoned only as a representative of Twitter. Nothing more... nothing less... All we want to know is who is the in-charge of Twitter in India...," UP Police added.

The court - which last month told the police "at least prima facie you should show he is responsible" - asked if UP Police had conducted preliminary inquiries to establish Twitter India's link to the case.

"When I make 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.

"That is a matter of investigation," UP Police responded.

The court, however, was unconvinced.

"Twitter is run by Twitter, Inc., based in USA. This is not a secret guarded under 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 court also referred to Mr Maheshwari's submission that Twitter, Inc., and not Twitter India, was the intermediary that - per the new IT rules - was required to comply with the contentious new laws.

Manish Maheshwari - a resident of Bengaluru - was given temporary protection from arrest by UP Police last month after he challenged their summons in the Karnataka High Court.

The court said police could not take "coercive action" till it passed its orders.

The court also said Mr Maheshwari - who has been charged with intent to riot, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy charges - did not have to travel to UP at that time.

An FIR was filed last month against Twitter India and others after an elderly man - Abdul Samad - alleged he was thrashed by some others and forced to chant "Jai Sri Ram" and "Vande Mataram".

UP Police accused Twitter of failing to remove certain "objectionable" tweets, and held Mr Maheshwari as being responsible for activities on the digital platform.

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, said.