A local court in Haryana’s Gurgaon has issued summons to Chinese company Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma regarding a case filed by a former employee at the company, who alleged that he was sacked on unfair terms after he objected to what he saw as censorship and fake news on their company’s apps, according to news agency Reuters.
This development comes after the Indian government cited security concerns and banned Alibaba’s UC News, UC Browser and 57 other Chinese apps after a violent faceoff between the two countries’ forces at the border.
India also sought a written response from all the banned app companies, including on whether they censored content or worked for any foreign government.
According to NDTV, in court filings dated July 20, the former employee of Alibaba’s UC Web, Pushpandra Singh Parmar, claimed 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”.
Following this allegation, Civil Judge Sonia Sheokand issued summons for Alibaba, Jack Ma, and around a dozen other individuals or company units, asking them to appear in court or through a lawyer on July 29, according to court documents.
The judge has also sought written responses from the company and its executives within 30 days, according to NDTV.
Furthermore, NDTV quoted UC India as saying in a statement that it had been “unwavering in its commitment to the Indian market and the welfare of its local employees, and its policies are in compliance with local laws. We are unable to comment on ongoing litigation”.
Alibaba representatives did not comment on behalf of the company or Jack Ma.
Parmar, who worked as an associate director at the UC Web office in Gurugram until October 2017 and is seeking Rs 2 crore (approx.) in damages, referred Reuters queries to his lawyer, Atul Ahlawat, who declined to comment saying the matter was sub judice.
This issue is the latest hurdle for Alibaba in India after the government’s app ban, following which UC Web has begun laying off staff in India.
Before the apps were banned, the UC Browser had been downloaded at least 689 million times in India, while the UC News app had seen 79.8 million downloads, mostly during 2017 and 2018, according to data given by analytics firm Sensor Tower.