Facebook India Moves SC Against Notice Issued By Delhi Assembly Over Role In Feb Riots; Hearing Today

Facebook India Moves SC Against Notice Issued By Delhi Assembly Over Role In Feb Riots; Hearing Today

New Delhi: Facebook India has moved the Supreme Court against the summons issued by the authorities of Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee which is probing the social media platform’s connection with the Delhi riots. According to reports, the apex court will hear a plea by Ajit Mohan, the India head of social media giant Facebook, challenging a notice sent to him by the Delhi Assembly. ALSO READ | Delhi Riots: Kapil Mishra Questioned By Police In July; BJP Leader Denied Giving Any Hate Speech, Says Chargesheet

The petition is listed before a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari. Senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi are expected to represent Facebook and Mohan respectively.

Mohan, who is also the vice-president managing director of Facebook India filed a petition in the top court on Tuesday for quashing the two summons issued by the Delhi Assembly panel and warnings issued to the social networking platform.

Earlier this week, Delhi Assembly panel on peace and harmony served a fresh notice to Mohan to appear before it on September 23, after no representative from the social-media company appeared before the committee earlier to clarify allegations of “deliberate inaction on the part of (the) social media platform to apply hate speech rules”.

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The petition filed by advocate Mayank Pandey representing Facebook India said that Delhi Assembly has no constitutional rights to either summon Facebook or examine issues that fall in the exclusive domain of the Centre.

The plea has urged the apex court to set aside the summons issued on September 10 and 18, and also restrain the Delhi Legislative assembly from taking coercive action against the petitioner in furtherance to these summonses.

The plea said on September 2, 2020, at the request of the Parliamentary Committee, Mohan appeared before the Parliamentary Committee and offered his views.

Specifically, the Committee is seeking to make a “determination of the veracity of allegations levelled against Facebook” in the Delhi riots, which intrudes into subjects exclusively allocated to the Union of India”, said the plea.

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Earlier in the month, the panel had issued the first notice to Facebook India head and sought his presence before it. The plea questioning the notice said, “Whether the privileges of Respondent No. 1, the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi, include the power to compel the appearance of non-members before Respondent No. 1 to express their views or subject them to examination?”

The “Peace and Harmony” committee was set up by the Delhi Assembly after riots over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which left 50 people dead and hundreds injured. The plea said the committee improperly seeks to exercise its powers and privileges in a manner that exceeds the constitutional limits of the Legislative Assembly.

Mohan cited that Delhi Police, which filed a 17,000-page chargesheet in connection with the riots recently, reported to the Centre and not to the Delhi government. The committee summoned the social media giant after reports by US publications alleging non-application of hate speech rules in the case of inflammatory posts by BJP leaders and right-wing activists.

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