by SALONI THAWANI
The Apex Court recently issued notice in reference to a plea made by Twitter India who was seeking the quashing of numerous FIRs registered against it for the promoting of a tweet by one Gurpatwant Singh Pannum on “Khalistan“, allegedly.
Twitter claimed that multiple FIRs have been registered against the corporation after Gurpatwant Singh Pannum had tweeted a poll on Twitter on “whether India should recognize Khalistan’2020.”
The plea put forward by Twitter stated that Vinit Goenka, National Co-Convener of the BJP IT cell and several other complainants claimed that Twitter had taken monetary consideration to promote the “Khalistan” tweet, whereas in reality, Twitter had blocked the questionable tweet and furthermore, suspended his account.
Twitter India submitted that in the past several months, Vinit Goenka and his supporters have conducted webinars demanding for Twitter to be announced as a terrorist organisation, for Twitter’s officers to be charged with sedition and moreover, to instigate mass filing of cases against Twitter and its employees.
The claims alleged by Vinit Goenka and his supporters are frivolous, unfounded and actuated by malice, Twitter added, arguing that it had no role in deciding Twitter’s Ad policy and that Twitter does not obtain revenue for the content that is promoted on their platform.
Twitter Communications stated that it has no control whatsoever over the content shared on the website and that the content is monitored by Twitter Inc, which is based in the United States. Twitter also stated that their role is limited to promoting brands, research, development, marketing and soliciting.
Twitter has therefore pleaded for the consolidation of themultiple FIRs filed against them in one place, pointing out the example of Arnab Goswami, in whose case the Supreme Court, under Article 32 of the Constitution had directed the consolidation of such FIRs when there were multiple in number.
Twitter Communications had also claimed that Vinit Goenka had called upon users to file multiple cases against the Twitter with the sole intention of harassing, threatening and intimidating the entity.
Restating that multitude of cases cannot be filed for the same act, the Indian entity stated that all the complaints, filed across eight States in India, are identical in nature and allegations.
Twitter’s plea added that the doctrine of vicarious liability can be implored only in certain exceptional cases.
Twitter Communications had also moved the Gauhati High Court to quash the lead FIR registered in Tinsukia, Assam. Thus, Twitter’s plea stated that they do not pray for quashing of the Assam FIR due to its already being pending before the Gauhati High Court, but seeks quashing of the rest of the identical FIRs.
Twitter has urged the court to combine all the FIRs into one at Tinsukia, in the alternative.
Advocate Sajjan Poovayya appeared as the legal counsel for Twitter assisted by Avocates Manu Kulkarni, Parul Shukla and Saransh Jain. The notice in this matter was issued by a Bench which was headed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde.
In the proceedings which were conducted via video-conferencing, the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, issued notices on the plea to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Karnataka, Assam, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra , Odisha and the Police Commissioner of Delhi.
The bench has also requested responses from the numerous complainants who have filed the complaints against Twitter, a social media giant.
The bench has also issued the notice to Vinit Goenka, a BJP functionary who claimed that the firm had allegedly taken monetary consideration to promote the questionable tweet.
Twitter had argued that they have no control whatsoever over the shared content on Twitter’s website and that the content is monitored by the Twitter Inc based in USA.