AP derogatory posts case: HC asks why CBI has not arrested NRI accused

The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday asked the CBI to explain the action being taken to arrest Punch Prabhakar, a US citizen and one of the accused in the derogatory social media posts case.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  21 Feb 2022 2:39 PM GMT
AP derogatory posts case: HC asks why CBI has not arrested NRI accused

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday asked the CBI to explain the action being taken to arrest Punch Prabhakar, a US citizen and one of the accused in the derogatory social media posts case.

The High Court was hearing a case of derogatory social media posts against judges and the judiciary.

The court questioned the CBI who took over the case as to why no action was taken against the accused. The CBI said since Punch Prabhakar is a US citizen, it needs permission from the Central government for his arrest and it has applied for the permit.

The court directed the CBI to file a counter-filing with full details to this effect.

The court has also ordered YouTube to remove all such videos immediately.

So far, the CBI has arrested 14 persons for allegedly posting derogatory and abusive content against the High Court judges. The CBI is coordinating with international agencies to arrest the other accused living in other countries.

Steps taken to remove 'derogatory' comments against judges: Twitter to AP HC

On February 13, Twitter has informed Andhra Pradesh high court that it has taken necessary steps to remove 'derogatory' comments posted against the judiciary and some High Court judges.

Andhra Pradesh High Court had earlier sought an explanation from Twitter for its failure to remove several 'derogatory' comments posted against the judiciary and some High Court judges.

In October 2021, the Court had directed the Social Media Intermediaries (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc) to remove derogatory content/URLs/IDs against judiciary and judges within 36 hours (as informed to them by Registrar General and CBI, which is presently probing the case).

However, on January 31, 2022, the Additional Solicitor General of India, informed that Twitter has not taken off the URLs despite the information being sent to it by the High Court and CBI.

The Court was told that if any user tries to have access to Twitter by mentioning his nationality as India, the said URLs are not visible. But, if the same user again tries to have access by mentioning his nationality of any other country, the same URLs are accessible from the territory of India.

On January 31, Andhra Pradesh High Court came down heavily on Twitter for disregarding its orders on deleting objectionable content and asked to show cause why it should not be shut down over the issue.

Stating that Twitter's (in)action is tantamount to contempt of court, a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice M Satyanarayana Murthy, on Monday asked why criminal proceedings could not be initiated against it.

The Court directed Twitter to file an affidavit in this regard by the next hearing and posted the case to February 7.

Taking a strong view, the High Court told Twitter it could not take cover behind technicalities.

"During the last hearing, we gave clear orders that the objectionable content be removed forthwith. Failure to do so amounts to contempt of court. If you have to continue your services, you have to necessarily respect the laws of the land. Otherwise, close your shop down," the High Court warned.

Twitter faced the AP High Court's ire during a regular hearing on a case related to objectionable and derogatory posts on various social media platforms against the judiciary allegedly by members and supporters of the ruling YSR Congress.

The CBI is investigating the case on the direction of the High Court. Several persons have been arrested in this connection.

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