The Karnataka high court on Friday quashed the notice issued to Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari by the Uttar Pradesh police, seeking his personal appearance as part of its probe into a communally sensitive video uploaded by a user on Twitter platform, saying it was issued by mala fide.
The single bench of Justice G Narendar said that the notice under Section 41(A) CrPC should be treated as Section under 160 of CrPC, allowing the Ghaziabad police to question Maheshwari through virtual mode, at his office or his residential address in Bengaluru.
Maintaining that the provisions of the statute under Section 41(A) CrPC should not be permitted to become "tools of harassment", Justice Narendar said Ghaziabad police did not place any material which would demonstrate even the prima facie involvement of the petitioner, though the hearing has been going on for the past several days.
"In the background of the fact that section 41(a) notice was issued by mala fide, the writ petition (filed by Maheshwari seeking quashing) is maintainable. Accordingly, the notice under section Annexure A notice shall be read as section 160 of the CrPC," the court said.
"The action of the respondent (Ghaziabad police) trying to invoke section 41(A) of the CrPC gives no doubt in the mind of court that the same has been resorted to as an arm-twisting method as the petitioner refused to heed to the notice under section 160 of the CrPC," the court observed.
The Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) police had issued a notice under Section 41-A of the CrPC on June 21 asking Maheshwari to report at the Loni Border police station at 10:30 am on June 24.
Maheshwari then moved the Karnataka high court as he lives in Bengaluru in Karnataka.
On June 24, the high court, in an interim order, restrained the Ghaziabad police from initiating any coercive action against him.
Justice Narendar had also maintained that if the police wanted to examine him, they could do so through virtual mode.
The Ghaziabad police on June 15 booked Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India Pvt Ltd (Twitter India), news website The Wire, journalists Mohammed Zubair and Rana Ayyub, besides Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, Shama Mohamed and writer Saba Naqvi.
They were booked over the circulation of a video in which an elderly man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, had alleged that he was thrashed by some young men, who also asked him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' on June 5.
According to the police, the video was shared to cause communal unrest.