NEW DELHI • An Indian court has summoned Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma over a former employee’s claim that 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 as it banned Alibaba’s UC News, UC Browser and 57 other Chinese apps in the wake of a clash between the two countries’ forces on their border. Following the ban, which China has criticised, India sought written answers from all affected companies, including whether they censored content or acted for any foreign government.
In court filings dated July 20 and previously not reported, the former employee of Alibaba’s UC Web, Mr Pushpendra Singh 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”.
Civil Judge Sonia Sheokand of a district court in Gurugram, a satellite city of India’s capital New Delhi, has issued summons for Alibaba, Mr Ma and about a dozen individuals or company units, asking them to appear in court or through a lawyer on Wednesday, 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 are in compliance with local laws”, and it is “unable to comment on ongoing litigation”.
Representatives of Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment from the Chinese company or on behalf of Mr Ma.
Mr Parmar, who worked as an associate director at the UC Web office in Gurugram until October 2017 and is seeking US$268,000 (S$370,500) in damages, referred Reuters queries to his lawyer, Mr Atul Ahlawat, who declined to comment, saying the matter was sub judice.
The court case is the latest hurdle for Alibaba in India after the Indian government’s app ban, following which UC Web has started laying off some staff in the country.