The Centre is free to take any action against Twitter if it finds the social media platform breaching the IT Rules, said the Delhi High Court on Thursday which came as another development in the Government vs Twitter row over India's new IT rules. The court has adjourned the matter until the next hearing on July 28.
However, Twitter told the Delhi High Court that it needs 8 weeks to appoint regular resident grievance redressal officers under the IT Rules. It also informed the court that the interim chief compliance officer has been appointed on July 6, interim grievance officer will be appointed by July 11 and interim nodal contact person in 2 weeks.
But Twitter also said that while it is striving to comply with the 2021 Rules, Twitter reserves its right to challenge the legality, validity, and vires of the Rules, and Twitter’s submissions regarding compliance are filed without prejudice to its right to challenge the Rules.
The micro-blogging site further told court that it has engaged the services of the Interim Chief Compliance Officer as a contingent worker via a third-party contractor and has also addressed a communication to MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology).
Court asks Twitter to file affidavit
The Delhi High Court has also asked all the interim officers appointed by Twitter to file affidavits stating they would take responsibility for the duties assigned to them.
Twitter India MD seeks quashing of police notice asking him to appear in person
In another development, Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari on Thursday sought the quashing of a notice issued by the Uttar Pradesh police seeking his physical presence in connection with a case registered for uploading and circulating a "communal sensitive" video on the platform.
Appearing on behalf of Maheshwari before the single bench of Justice G Narendar in the Karnataka High Court, his counsel CV Nagesh contended that the notice under Section 41-A of the CrPC was issued "without jurisdiction, without the sanction of law."
He claimed that the first notice was issued on June 17 under Section 160 of the CrPC.
The legal obligation under Section 160 of the CrPC is based upon a person who resides at a place which is located within the territorial jurisdiction of the police station where the crime is registered, the counsel argued.
After the notice under Section 160 was issued, Maheshwari told the investigators that he did not know anything about the issue, Nagesh said.
He added that even if Maheshwari appeared before them in person, the reply would be the same.
"The IO (investigating officer) was not satisfied because there was a hidden agenda. Then what he (IO) did is, he invoked the powers under Section 41 A of the CrPC, which is not right", he alleged.
"Law does not empower him (the IO) to do so. It is an act which has been done without the sanction of law," the counsel argued.
The Twitter MD resides in Bengaluru, and his office is located in the city, Nagesh pointed out.
Maheshwari had earlier indicated that he was prepared to cooperate with the investigation through video conference. The case has been posted for further hearing on Friday.
The Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) police issued the notice under Section 41-A of the CrPC on June 21 asking him to report at the Loni Border police station at 10.30 AM on June 24.
Maheshwari then approached 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, alleges he was thrashed by some young men who also asked him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' on June five.
According to police, the video was shared to cause communal unrest.
(With PTI inputs)