Having umpteen followers or several tweets on Twitter handle does not necessarily make a person a ‘professional tweeter’ and social media influencer, Sunaina Holey told the Bombay High Court on Thursday.
Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, who was appearing on behalf of Holey, submitted that various companies, organisations and political leaders have Twitter handles with large number of followers, but they are not professional tweeters.
Chandrachud was rebutting the argument by Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Manoj Mohite that Sunaina Holey was an influential and professional tweeter.
Fast food joints like McDonalds, Mad Over Donuts, KFC have several followers on Twitter, Chandrachud said and so does individuals like Pooja Dhingra, a baker.
Political leaders have Twitter accounts with several followers, he added referring to Aaditya Thackeray’s Twitter handle with over 12,500 tweets.
Similarly, Holey who happened to have several tweets and followers, could not be called a “professional tweeter” or influential, Chandrachud argued.
The arguments came in Holey’s plea seeking quashing of FIRs registered against her in connection with her tweets against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, and Cabinet Minister Aaditya Thackeray and for a tweet allegedly promoting enmity between two communities.
SPP Mohite submitted that Holey’s tweets came at a time when the country was in turmoil and there was a law-and-order situation.
Holey’s tweets were published on a day when there was many migrant workers gathered outside the Bandra Railway Station in Mumbai.
“One Muslim man was trying to address the crowd. We do not know if the crowd was Muslim or mix religion. There was bandobast on the next day, so it was definitely a law-and-order situation,” Mohite submitted.
He relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Amish Devgan case to point out various aspects the Court must consider while quashing of FIR under Section 153-A (promoting enmity between communities) of the Indian Penal Code.
Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik asked Mohite whether Holey’s tweets led to the crowd gathering or increased the size of the gathering.
“Whether anything happened at any other place? Someone was addressing and then someone interfered. So, tweet was made by her. So, was it because of her tweet that circumstances aggravated? The tweet is very short, perhaps according to you it conveys the meaning. We are only asking if her tweet led to some chain reaction, only as a matter of fact. Prior and subsequent,“ the Bench queried.
Mohite replied that even though Holey’s tweet was not responsible for the gathering of the crowd, it was an unnecessary tweet. But if there were any repercussions to the tweet, then the same is being investigated by the police, he added.
After Mohite concluded his submissions, Chandrachud made brief rejoinder arguments.
He replied that in Devgan’s case, the tweets that came under fire were extreme and involved two communities unlike in Holey’s case.
Chandrachud pointed out that her tweet mentioned a mosque only to point out the location, so technically it was only one community.
“She did not say anything about the trains or Tablighi Jamaat or any other community spreading COVID,” he added.
He also informed the Court that the tweet was referred to by another Twitter account holder who made some objectionable statements against a religious community.
“So the onus is on her, not on me. I cannot be held responsible for something someone else said by distorting what I had said” he argued.
Chandrachud concluded his submissions by reiterating that after filing of the FIR, it has been nine months and the police have still not been able to point out any untoward incident arising from Holey’s tweet.
The Court then reserved the matter for order while granting liberty to both sides to file their written submissions within a week.