Jack Ma summon: Petitioner's lawyer seeks stay on disposal of UC Browser's assets in India
We are asking for stay so that they do not alienate their assets in the country because there were reports that they are closing shop in Ind and they are going to alienate and dispose of all their assets which is going to frustrate my client's rights if that is allowed to happen.
Owner of Ali Baba Group and one of the richest men in China Jack Ma has been summoned by an Indian district court in a case related to fake news and censorship. In a court filing dated July 20th Pushpandra Singh Parmar, a former employee of Ali Baba Group's UC Web has alleged that the company was censoring content and news that did not favour China. The district court of the Indian state of Haryana's Gurugram city which is hearing the case has issued a summon to Jack Ma. Parmar alleges that the company used to censor content seen as unfavourable to China and its apps UC Browser and UC News showcased false news “to cause social and political turmoil”. Parmar, who worked as an associate director at the UC Web office in Gurugram until October 2017 and is seeking $268,000 in damages.
Atul Ahlawat, the advocate of the petitioner spoke to WION. Here are the edited excerpts from the interview.
What are the charges and what reaction you got from the company and its owner Jack Ma?
This is a civil suit for wrongful termination and my client Pushpandra Singh Parmar who was working as an associate director with the company is seeking damages and compensation to the tune of Rs 2 crore for the wrongful termination. The learned civil judge here at the Gurugram court has issued summons to all the defendants including Jack Ma. The summons is returnable July 29. They can either appear through counsellor in person.
Is Jack Ma going to appear in the court on July 29?
No, till date we have not received any response from the defendants or Jack Ma. We are waiting for 29 which is the next date of hearing. We are expecting someone to appear. Either in person or through a council.
The lawsuit contains some sensitive words like Sino-India war and India-China border. Can you explain how exactly they have a place in the lawsuit?
Our petition contains certain specific allegations wherein there were more than 1,500,50 words which were content specific which was used through used a computer programme and whenever somebody typed these words used to be highlighted and app managers of the company used to know about it and the content which the app was showing to them used to then go through a filter system. So, if you write Indo-Pak war 1999 Kargil, they are going to give you those stories which are favourable to Chinese narrative or Chinese interests or even Pakistani interests which were running against the Indian interest and it was not content-neutral like Google or other search engines.
How the case progresses from here on?
Since its a civil suit, there is a possibility that Jack Ma and other defenders do not appear in person but they appear through their council because they are authorised to do so under the law. The case will proceed in a normal manner irrespective of reasonable restrictions that are imposed due to COVID-19. The have to file their return response which written statement within 30 days which can be extended to 90 days if they show reasonable excuse. I expect our application for stay which we have filed on the 20th of July to be taken up on the next date of hearing. We are asking for stay so that they do not alienate their assets in the country because there were reports that they are closing shop in Ind and they are going to alienate and dispose of all their assets which is going to frustrate my client's rights if that is allowed to happen. So, we will try to impress upon the court that in the time being when the matter is being heard there should be a stay against the defendants so that they do not dispose of their assets in India and do not run away from the country.