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Maha govt opposes plea seeking removal of Kangana Ranaut's Twitter account

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Mumbai, Dec 17: The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that a petition which seeks that Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut's Twitter account be permanently suspended was not maintainable.

Kangana Ranaut

The reliefs sought by petitioner Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh were "vague", and the plea should be dismissed, government lawyer Y P Yagnik said.

Deshmukh, a city-based lawyer, said in his criminal writ petition that Twitter should be directed to permanently suspend or disable Ranaut's account to stop the "spread of hate in the country". Twitter should be also directed to follow guidelines and laws of the country to prevent the "misuse" of its platform, the petitioner said.

He cited several controversial tweets by Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel which allegedly incited hatred against communities and the state machinery. These tweets included the one which led to the suspension of Chandel's account by Twitter India for targeting a community, and also Ranaut's tweet comparing Mumbai to "Pak- occupied- Kashmir".

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Arguing before a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik on Thursday, Deshmukh said he had written to the police and Maharashtra authorities in the past seeking action against Ranaut and her sister. "She (Ranaut) has multiple FIRs pending against her. In the past she has misused the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput for her own gains and she is doing so now with farmers' protest too," Deshmukh said.

But the judges sought to know if the plea was a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). When Deshmukh said it was not, the bench said, "Then how can we act in a criminal case on the basis of claims made by a third party, who is in no way affected personally? Is this a PIL? If not, then you will have to show personal injury to you, how it is affecting you." Government lawyer Yagnik argued that the plea did not state how the tweets flagged by the petitioner affected the public at large. "This is a very vague petition. Twitter is an international body. One can not seek vague reliefs like these. This plea is not maintainable and should be disposed of," Yagnik said.

Deshmukh argued that Ranaut had been spreading "continuous hatred" in the country. The HC, however, reiterated that in a criminal case, the court could not act at the instance of a third party. It directed Deshmukh to "ponder" whether the issue should be raised through a PIL or the criminal writ petition should continue, and adjourned the matter to December 21.

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