'Facebook will have to appear before a committee of Delhi Assembly', SC said bluntly
The court bluntly said that Facebook will have to appear before the committee of the Delhi Assembly, but the committee will not seek its reply on the issues of law and order and legal proceedings
Supreme Court refuses to quash Delhi Assembly committee's summons to Facebook. The court bluntly said that Facebook will have to appear before the committee of the Delhi Assembly, but the committee will not seek its reply on the issues of law and order and legal proceedings which are under the jurisdiction of the Centre. The SC while hearing a petition from Facebook said in its decision, 'We have no difficulty in saying that we are not affected by the argument with respect to the privilege part of the petitioner. The option of not appearing before the committee cannot be disputed. Petitioner's plea is frivolous as nothing else has happened except the issue of summons. The committee is entitled to receive information to deliberate on peace and harmony.'
The Supreme Court said that the committee of the Delhi Legislative Assembly has the right to seek information on any matter relating to peace and harmony without infringing on the jurisdiction of the central laws. The committee cannot play the role of a prosecuting agency and cannot directly file a charge sheet. Facebook executives can choose not to answer questions. We will give limited protection to the committee in this matter. The SC said that the statements made by the committee about making Facebook a co-accused in the chargesheet were beyond its purview. The statements of the committee are not conducive to the impartiality of the investigation.
Said that the legislative business is only one of the functions of the Legislative Assembly. The investigation of complex social problems is also under its purview. The SC has given this decision on the petition of Ajit Mohan, Vice President of Facebook India, related to the Delhi riots. Ajit Mohan had challenged the summons of the committee of Delhi Assembly. A bench of Justice SK Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Rai gave this decision. In February, the SC had reserved its decision on Ajit Mohan's petition. Ajit Mohan had filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Delhi government committee summoned to investigate what was the role of Facebook in the Delhi riots in the year 2020.
Facebook India Vice President and Managing Director Ajit Mohan on Wednesday raised questions in the Supreme Court on the legislative authority of the Delhi Assembly to constitute a committee on the issue of peace and harmony. This committee had issued notice to Mohan for not appearing as a witness in the cases related to Delhi riots.
The bench had heard the petition of Ajit Mohan against the notice issued by the Peace and Harmony Committee constituted by the Delhi Assembly. The bench had reserved its verdict after hearing the arguments of Ajit Mohan, lawyers appearing for Delhi Assembly and the Central Government. In fact, the Assembly had taken a stand against the riots in North East Delhi last year and the spread of hate speeches on Facebook. To investigate the role of the Peace and Harmony Committee was formed. The committee had called Ajit Mohan as a witness and when he did not appear, it had issued notices against him on September 10 and 18 last year. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Ajit Mohan, said in the court that the Delhi Assembly has no right to constitute a peace committee as the law and order issue in the national capital comes under the Centre.
During the hearing held through video conference, Salve said that such backdoor extension of rights should not be allowed. He said that in the current noisy environment, it is better to remain silent. Leave it to me to decide whether I want to go or not. Earlier, advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi Assembly, said that the Assembly has the right to summon. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, opposed the assembly committee saying that the matter of law and order completely comes under the jurisdiction of Delhi Police, which is accountable to the central government.