Gurgaon court summons Alibaba and Jack Ma
A Gurgaon court has summoned Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma in a case in which a former employee in India says he was wrongfully fired after objecting to what he saw as censorship and fake news on company apps, documents seen by Reuters showed.
The case comes weeks after India cited security concerns in banning Alibaba’s UC News, UC Browser and 57 other Chinese apps after a clash between the two countries’ forces on their border.
In court filings dated July 20, the former employee of Alibaba’s UC Web, Pushpandra Singh Parmar, alleges 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”.
Civil judge Sonia Sheokand of a district court in Gurgaon has issued summons for Alibaba, Jack Ma and about a dozen individuals or company units, asking them to appear in court or through a lawyer on July 29, court documents showed.The judge has also sought written responses from the company and its executives within 30 days, according to the summons.
UC India said in a statement it had been “unwavering in its commitment to the India market and the welfare of its local employees, and its policies were in compliance with local laws. We are unable to comment on ongoing litigation.”
Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment.
Parmar, who worked as an associate director at the UC Web office in Gurgaon until October 2017 and is seeking $268,000 in damages, referred Reuters queries to his lawyer, Atul Ahlawat, who declined to comment saying the matter was sub judice.
In more than 200 pages of court filings, Parmar included clippings of some posts showcased on the UC News app that he alleged were false. One post from 2017 was headlined in Hindi: “2,000-rupee notes to be banned from midnight today.” Another headline of a 2018 post said: “Just now: War broke out between India and Pakistan” and contained description of firing across the border.
The lawsuit also contains a “sensitive words list” with key words in Hindi and English like “India-China border” and “Sino-India war” that the court filing alleges were used by UC Web to censor content on its platforms in India.
“In order to control any news related content to be published against China was automatically/manually rejected by an audit system evolved for this purpose,” the filing said.