A woman charged by the Mumbai Police for posting allegedly offensive tweets had over 20,000 followers on Twitter and could be considered as a social media influencer or even a “professional tweeter”, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Monday.
Earlier, the counsel for the accused Sunaina Holey had told the high court that she was not a public figure who is capable of influencing a large number of people through her tweets.
Senior counsel Manoj Mohite, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, told the high court that the accused was charged for one of her tweets suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic was caused by a particular political party.
The tweet was flagged by a city police official who found it “objectionable” and an FIR was lodged.
Mr Mohite told the HC that at that time, when the nationwide lockdown was just announced, “communal harmony was an issue” and hence Ms Holey was charged under section 153A of the IPC on the charge of disrupting communal harmony and under several other charges.
Mr Mohite was responding to Ms Holey’s counsel Abhinav Chandrachud’s previous arguments that Ms Holey was not a public figure capable of influencing a large number of people through her tweets.
Mr Chandrachud had also argued that Ms Holey had not mentioned any particular community in her tweets and therefore, no offence was made out against her.
Mr Mohite, however, said Ms Holey had told the police that she was a social media influencer.
“In her statement to the police, Holey informed them that she was into liaisoning. Considering the circumstances of the case, I submit that she may be a professional tweeter,” Mr Mohite said.
He said, “Less than 0.2% of twitter users have more than 20,000 followers. Social media has been evidently seen to have spread misinformation”. He added that Holey had more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.
Ms Holey had approached the High Court earlier this year seeking that the FIR registered against her by the Mumbai police for posting allegedly offensive tweets against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya, be scrapped.
A bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik has been hearing the final arguments in the case.
The hearing will continue on Tuesday.