- Apprentice Lawyer
The Supreme Court today issued notice on a plea by Twitter Communications India Pvt Ltd seeking quashing of multiple FIRs registered against it for allegedly promoting a tweet by Gurpatwant Singh Pannum on "Khalistan."
The Indian entity has claimed that multiple FIRs have been lodged against it after Pannum tweeted a Twitter poll on "whether India should recognize Khalistan'2020."
The plea states that Vinit Goenka, National Co-Convener of the BJP IT cell and other complainants alleged that Twitter had taken financial consideration to promote Pannum's tweet, whereas Twitter had blocked the tweet and suspended his account.
Twitter India submits that in the past months, Goenka and his supporters have held webinars asking for Twitter to be declared a terrorist organisation, for its officers to be charged with sedition and to encourage mass filing of cases against Twitter and its employees.
The allegations levelled by Goenka and his supports are baseless, unfounded and actuated by malice, the petitioner adds, asserting that it has no role in determining Twitter’s Ad policy and that it does not collect revenue for the content promoted on the platform.
Twitter Communications states that it has no control over the content on the Twitter website and that the same is monitored by Twitter Inc, which is based in the US. Twitter Communications further submits that its role is limited to research, marketing, development, soliciting and promoting brands.
Twitter Communications has now sought the consolidation of all FIRs filed against it in one place, citing the example of Arnab Goswami's case where the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution had directed such consolidation when there were multiple FIRs.
The petitioner has stated Goenka had called upon users to file cases against the Indian entity with the sole aim of threatening, harassing and intimidating Twitter Communications.
Reiterating that multiple cases cannot be lodged for the same act, the petitioner states that all the complaints, filed across eight States in India, are identical in nature and allegations.
The plea adds that the doctrine of vicarious liability can only be invoked in exceptional cases.
The petitioner has also approached the Gauhati High Court to quash the lead FIR registered in Tinsukia, Assam. Thus, the plea states it does not pray for quashing of the Assam FIR as its pending before the High Court but seeks quashing of all other FIRs.
Twitter Communications has urged the court to consolidate all the FIRs into one complaint at Tinsukia, in the alternative.
Senior Advocate Sajjan Poovayya appeared for Twitter assisted by lawyers Manu kulkarni, Parul Shukla and Saransh Jain today. The plea was filed through AOR EC Agrawala. Notice in the matter was issued by a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.