Twitter India chief wins relief from court in police probe case-sources

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FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian court on Thursday said Twitter Inc's country head should face no "coercive action" in a case where police summoned him for failing to stop the spread of a video that allegedly incited religious discord, three sources said.

Last week, police in northern Uttar Pradesh state sent a written summons to Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari to appear before officials and answer allegations that include inciting "hate and enmity" between Hindu and Muslim communities.

Maheshwari, who is based in Bengaluru city in southern Karnataka state, appealed to the court and sought to quash the summons, sources familiar with the matter said.

On Thursday, "the judge said no coercive action can be taken against him and he can be examined via video conferencing," one of the sources told Reuters.

A second source said the order in effect gives Maheshwari protection from any possible arrest by the police.

Twitter declined to comment.

The police case had been registered over a video of a few men, apparently Hindu, beating an elderly man believed to be a Muslim and cutting his beard. The police report named Twitter, its local unit and seven others.

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has lashed out at Twitter for the incident, saying its failure to act was "perplexing."

The controversy comes at a time when India's federal government has locked horns with Twitter over non-compliance with certain federal rules, raising concerns that the platform may no longer enjoy protection against user-generated content.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Writing by Abhirup Roy, Editing by William Maclean)

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