Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court to challenge a Karnataka High Court order that has given Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari temporary protection from arrest in connection with an FIR over tweets about the assault of a Muslim man near Delhi.
Mr Maheshwari has also approached the top court; he filed a caveat asking the court to hear his side before passing any orders on UP Police’s appeal.
Last week the Karnataka High Court said UP Police could not take “coercive action” against Mr Maheshwari – who was first summoned to the state as a witness and later served notice as an accused charged with intent to riot, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy.
The court also said Mr Maheshwari – a Bengaluru resident – did not have to travel to UP now.
A single-judge bench of Justice G Narender had said: “This matter needs further consideration”, and reserved orders till June 29. “No coercive action (till then) …” Justice Narender had said.
To an objection by UP Police that this meant he had been granted anticipatory bail, the court said: “If police desire to investigate or question, they may do so by virtual mode.”
During the hearing Mr Maheshwari had told the Karnataka High Court: “In two days, the notices (from the police) to me changed from witness to accused.”
The court questioned UP Police over the summons, saying: “… he (Mr Maheshwari) is not Director of day-to-day activities of Twitter. At least prima facie you should show he is responsible…”
On the change of notice to Mr Maheshwari, UP Police said it was “based on investigation”.
Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari faces another FIR from UP – about an incorrect map of India
Mr Maheshwari had moved the High Court to challenge UP Police’s summons on June 23 – after he was served a notice calling him to the Loni Police Station (on the Delhi-UP border) for questioning.
An FIR has been filed 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 Shri Ram” and “Vande Mataram”. A video of the incident was widely shared on social media.
Twitter India had been ordered to delete certain posts but initially failed to do so. In the FIR that was filed UP Police declared that Mr Maheshwari is responsible for activities on the digital platform.
The police also 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,” his son, Babloo Saifi, told NDTV.
Mr Maheshwari has also been named in another FIR (also in UP) – over an incorrect map of India on the Twitter website; the map showed Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh as a separate country.