Several police cases against Twitter India and its MD have been recorded since the IT rules compliance deadline expired.
Another complaint was filed against Manish Maheshwari, Managing Director of Twitter India, and others, this time with the Delhi Police, for allegedly portraying Hindu gods in an account on the platform. Maheshwari and Shagufta Kamran of Twitter India were named in the complaint about the platform’s alleged inaction to remove the posts.
Lawyer Aditya Singh Deshwal’s complaint, of which MediaNama saw a copy, stated that a Twitter account called Atheist Republic shared “an offensive graphic / cartoon of the Hindu goddess Maa Kali.” Deshwal said that Twitter, which is a major social media intermediary (SSMI) under IT rules, did not take any action against the account or remove the content. On this basis, Deshwal filed a complaint against –
- Twitter Communication India Private Limited
- Manish Maheshwari, CEO of Twitter India
- Shagufta Kamra, Public Policy Manager, Twitter
- Armin Navabi, founder of the Atheist Republic
- Susanna Mcintyre, CEO of Atheist Republic
The complaint was filed at Sections 153A, 295A, 298, 505, 107 of the Indian Criminal Code, 1860 and Section 67, 67A in accordance with 79 (3) of the Information Technology Act. Attempts to contact Delhi police officers did not generate any response and it is not yet clear whether an FIR has been registered in this regard. MediaNama has reached Twitter and the post will be updated when a response is received.
The inclusion of Twitter Communications India Private Limited (or Twitter India) as a defendant in the lawsuit is interesting in the context of recent deliberations during a hearing in the Karnataka High Court. Judge G Narender, who heard a petition filed by Maheshwari related to the Ghaziabad attack video case, asked if Twitter India was able to remove content from the platform or if it was an intermediary under IT Law 2000 . Maheshwari’s attorney replied that she was not an intermediary under Section 79 of the IT Act.
“As I continued to scroll down the Atheist Republic profile, I saw that said user had posted many more such posts on his profile to insult and humiliate the Hindu religion. It is appropriate to mention here that after reviewing the entire post of this user Atheist Republic, it can easily be concluded that it is a deliberate attempt by the user to deliberately outrage and offend the religious sentiments of the Hindus, the religious To promote hostility among the people of this country, ”Deshwal said in his complaint.
It’s not the first time that the Atheist Republic, led by Susan McIntyre and Armin Navabi, was in the spotlight. Recently in February, at the behest of the government, Facebook blocked the Atheist Republic website from users in India. Previously, in October 2020, Twitter had blocked Navabi’s account. This came after Navabi, an Iranian-Canadian, posted an image of the Hindu deity Kali that was viewed as provocative by right-wing groups.
Submissions of the complainant against Twitter
Deshwal made these allegations against Twitter in his complaint –
- From July 2011, Twitter “in consultation” with Armin Navabi and Atheist Republic showed “blasphemous content”.
- Twitter, a major social media intermediary (SSMI), has not taken any steps to remove such content
- In a blatant violation of Indian law, Twitter is alleged to have been an accomplice in the crime and to have shown such blasphemous and offensive content about Maa Kali.
- Twitter, through its platform, allegedly purposely promotes hate speech about the Hindu religion, which violates the provisions of India’s Criminal Code of 1860 in light of Section 79 of the Information Technology Act of 2000.
- Even after a month, Maheshwari and Kamran did not “consciously” take action against the content
Police proceedings against Maheshwari
Since the “manipulated media” controversy, Manish Maheshwari from Twitter India has been in the crosshairs of many controversies related to Twitter in the country –
- Madhya Pradesh Police opened a case against Manish Maheshwari from Twitter after the social media platform posted an inaccurate representation of the Indian map on its website, an MP police officer confirmed to MediaNama.
- Uttar Pradesh police named Twitter India chief Manish Maheshwari in an initial intelligence report (FIR) on a map on Twitter’s website showing Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh as separate countries.
- Ghaziabad police sent Maheshwari two legal notices related to a viral video attacking an elderly man in UP’s Loni district.
- The Delhi police had delivered a notice to Maheshwari in connection with the label “manipulated media” in some contributions by BJP politicians.
Action against Twitter: Is it the result of non-compliance with IT rules?
During the hearing of Maheshwari’s petition against the UP police in the case of the Ghaziabad attack video, the UP police attorney said that the FIR, which was registered against Twitter in the case, is directly related to non-compliance with IT rules 2021 Twitter failure to comply with IT rules in India in 2021. All we want is their cooperation. The company has a responsibility to the country, ”said UP Police attorney Prasanna Kumar.
This is likely the first time a government agency has linked the lawsuit filed against Twitter India and Twitter Inc. to the social media company’s non-compliance with IT rules 2021; the last date for compliance with the IT rules was May 26th. The Union government has repeatedly stated that a major social media intermediary (SSMI) who fails to comply with the rules will lose the indemnity under IT Law 2000.