KARNATAKA HIGH COURT CALLS NOTICE ISSUED BY THE UTTAR PRADESH POLICE AS ‘TOOL OF HARASSMENT’ BY NIMESH ROHILLA @LEXCLIQ

Friday, 23 july 2021. Karnataka high courts
Calling the notice issued by the Uttar Pradesh Police to the Managing Director of Twitter India as a “tool of harassment”
The Notice was issued by the U.P. police to Manish Maheshwari, the MD of Twitter Communications India Private Ltd (TCIPL), had any control over the contents posted in Twitter. the Karnataka High Court on Friday quashed the said notice, issued under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure in relation to the FIR registered over the videos posted in Twitter showing the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad. Karnataka High Court calls such notice coercive.

BACKGROUND OF THE MATTER:-

The FIR was registered of an elderly Muslim man’s claim in a video that his beard was cut off, and he was forced to chant “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Shri Ram”. However, later on, the Uttar Pradesh Police ruled out any “communal angle” and said that Sufi Abdul Samad, the elderly man, was attacked by six men, as they were unhappy over the tabeez (amulets) he had sold them.

OFFENCE DISCUSSED IN THE CASE UNDER IPC :-
It mentioned offences punishable under Sections 153 (provoking to cause riots)
Section 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups).
Section 295A (insulting religious beliefs),
Section 505 (statements inducing public mischief)
section 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

Justice G Narender said.while passing the order said,

‘The provisions of the statute cannot be permitted to become tools of harassment. The respondent has not placed even an iota of material which would prima facie show involvement of the petitioner. In that view of the matter petitioner has made out a case. Section 41A notice is issued by malafide and the petition is maintainable. The Annexure A1 notice is quashed

The bench said that the Section 41A Notice- which contains a threat of arrest- must be read as a notice under Section 160 CrPC, which is issued for seeking statements from a witness. The Police is at liberty to seek the statement of Maheshwari as a witness through virtual mode, the bench clarified.

“The invocation of Section 41A was resorted to as an arm-twisting method after Maheshwari did not respond to initial notice under Section 160 CrPC”, the High Court made a harsh observation against the UP Police.”
[ Section 41 A deal witch the Notice of appearance before the police officer]

OBSERVATIONS MADE BY HIGH COURT

‘The HC observed that the records indicated that Twitter Communications India Private Ltd (TCIPL) was involved in market research and advertising, with no control over social media content. Twitter INC, the USA company which manages the microblogging platform, holds no share in TCIPL.

“Material placed on record demonstrates that the entity Twitter India is an independent entity and share holding pattern and control of the affairs of the company is in hands of Twitter Ireland…The information available cannot be said to be indicating that petitioner controlling the contents of the social media platforms run by Twitter Inc”, the High Court noted.’

In this backdrop, the High Court concluded that the Section 41A notice was “mala fide”, “arm twisting method” and “tool of harassment”.

The Court also rejected the objection raised by UP Police against the maintainability of the petition alleging lack of territorial jurisdiction.

The Court also noted that Maheshwari has not been arraigned as an accused in the Ghaziabad FIR.

Well under such conditions the High Court said that. The employee of twitter was not

ARGUMENTS MADE BY BOTH PARTIES

ON BEHALF OF PETITIONER-

Senior Advocate C V Nagesh appearing for the petitioner had argued that Section 41A notice is a fallout to the Section 160 CrPC notice which lacks sanction of law. He stated that since Maheshwari is not a resident of UP, a police officer has to come to Bengaluru to investigate the matter under section 160 CrPC. He further claimed that Maheshwari has never been or is not a member of the Board of Directors of the company and thus, Twitter is not controlled or administered by him.

It was further his claim that Twitter Inc is an independent organization and it is totally different, while Twitter India is a different entity.

ON BEHALF OF U.P. POLICE –

Advocate Prasanna Kumar appearing for the Uttar Pradesh police had raised the issue of maintainability citing lack of territorial jurisdiction. Mere service of notice at a place will not confer jurisdiction there for the purposes of Article 226(2) of the Constitution, he had argued.

He also made it clear that 41A notice was issued to the Petitioner only in a representative capacity and their aim is to merely identify Twitter India head, for which they seek the Petitioner’s cooperation. The court was also addressed on the issue of territorial jurisdiction, inasmuch as the alleged incident is said to have taken place in Uttar Pradesh, thus the petitioner will have to approach the court in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The FIR was registered over the tweets made by few journalists and politicians about the incident of an elderly Muslim man getting assaulted near Ghaziabad. It was alleged in the FIR that fake news was shared on Twitter that the attack was communal in nature.

It was also stated before the Court that despite clarification issued by Ghaziabad police, neither doctored video nor tweets were deleted by Twitter authorities, thus resulting in further tension.

WHAT WAS HELD BY THE HIGH COURT?

The Court also noted that Maheshwari has not been arraigned as an accused in the Ghaziabad FIR.

In this backdrop, the High Court concluded that the Section 41A notice was “mala fide”, “arm twisting method” and “tool of harassment”.

The Court also rejected the objection raised by UP Police against the maintainability of the petition alleging lack of territorial jurisdiction.

CONCLUSION:-

In the said matter the interim orders which were passed by the High Court came to be challenged by the Police before the Supreme Court. Will the Supreme Court allow it or reject it? Well it is clear that 41A notice was issued to the Petitioner only in a representative capacity and their aim is to merely identify Twitter India head, for which they seek the Petitioner’s cooperation. And as we talk about the territorial jurisdiction of the court then under such conditions the order made by the court has territorial jurisdiction has power to try such a case or petition . Or even can be transferred to such a court who has jurisdiction over the matter because the incident took place under their territory.
Well the Petitioner shall have to approach such court for the said appeal made by them.
Well this matter is now in the Supreme Court and we will soon find its ruling.

Source:- livelaw.in.

Thank you for reading.

WRITTEN BY

Nimesh Rohilla

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